Tired Kings face tough task against surging Flames

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All season, the Calgary Flames have been searching to find their form. After a few false starts when they appeared to have their act together, the Flames may have actually taken the right steps.

As they head into a Saturday home clash with the Los Angeles Kings, the Flames are riding a three-game winning streak — their longest of the season — and are on a 4-0-1 run. They are coming off a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, continuing a perfect record under interim head coach Geoff Ward following the turbulence that led to the resignation of Bill Peters.

“I think it’s just been a statement week,” forward Derek Ryan said. “We’re starting to find our game a little bit slowly. We’re still not 100 percent there, but the snowball’s starting to pick up some speed.”

The Flames also gained a couple of positives from the Thursday game. While Sean Monahan has collected two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak, Johnny Gaudreau snapped a 10-game goal-scoring drought, and Milan Lucic finally scored his first goal of the season.

“A little bit of relief,” Lucic said. “It’s always nice to get the first one with your new team. My teammates all along have been sticking with me and building me up, because it took longer than I hoped and probably a lot of people hoped, but good on everyone for all of the support.”

The Flames on Friday announced Ray Edwards, who had been the club’s director of player development and coached at many levels for several years, would serve as an assistant coach.

The Kings arrive in Calgary after a 2-1 road loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, a game in which the visitors held a 36-20 edge in shots.

“Same story and over and over and over again,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. “Close, work hard, don’t quit, pretty good structure, just a goal short. There’s not much for us to complain about as a coaching staff.”

Well, there are the team’s struggles to be concerned about. The Kings have lost three straight games and have just two wins in their past eight outings (2-5-1). They also have a dismal 2-11-1 road record. As close as they came to beating the Oilers, a tougher task will be to prevent frustration from setting into the dressing room.

“It’s our job to keep the bad habits out, and it’s our job to try and keep the morale up,” McLellan said. “They’re not, by any means, down right now. I think they understand they’re playing a pretty good game.

“The whole purpose of our approach this year was to get some structure in place and to move the needle and get better — we’re doing that right now. We’re not winning enough games, but we are getting better. And it will pay off at some point.”

In their favor, the Kings have won the first two clashes with the Flames this season, both in October, including a 4-3 overtime game in Calgary. That said, it’s a tough task playing on consecutive nights and for the eighth time in 13 days, as they’ll be doing on Saturday.

“We need everybody on board,” McLellan said. “We can’t have any spare parts resting or taking time off, and we’ve been getting that for the most part.”

–Field Level Media

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