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Los Angeles Kings at Calgary Flames NHL Picks
Who Is Third? This Game Will Decide That
In theory, the Los Angeles Kings should be ripe for the picking by the Calgary Flames. The Kings arrived at the Pengrowth Saddledome fresh from Tuesday's 6-2 thrashing at Vancouver against the Canucks. Los Angeles continues its struggles of late, allowing three goals in the first 10 minutes and falling behind 4-1 by the end of the opening period.
January started out so well for the Flames. They picked up where they left off in December and just kept winning, running their streak of success to seven games. And then they stopped playing - at first literally, ejoying the rest of their bye week. But when it was time to return to action, the Flames didn't. First came a 2-1 shootout loss to the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets, an acceptable result for a return game, but there was nothing good to say about Monday's 2-1 overtime loss to the cellar-dwelling Buffalo Sabres.
Can the Flames reignite their success story and crown the Kings? Let's break it down, based on odds provided by Bovada.
Los Angeles Kings (+140) at Calgary Flames (-160)
No team likes to take a break, and certainly the Flames weren't anxious to shut things down when they were rolling on a seven-game winning streak that featured a 4-0 road trip. Even with the two recent setbacks, the Flames are still on a season-high nine-game points streak. This stretch included a 4-3 home-ice win over the Kings on Jan. 4.
Over this point streak, Calgary's top forward line of Johnny Gaudreau (2-12-14), Sean Monahan (4-6-10), and Micheal Ferland (4-5-9) have combined for 35 points. The Flames are 14-3-0-0 when Gaudreau has two or more points and 11-1-0-0 when Monahan has two or more points. Prior to their last two games, the Flames had scored at least three goals in seven consecutive games.
Goalie Mike Smith is also delivering the goods for the Flames. Smith has allowed just five goals in his past four starts and hasn't permitted more than two goals in his last six starts. He hasn’t seen his save percentage in a game go below .900 since Dec. 14 against San Jose. The Flames haven’t allowed more than three goals since Dec. 4 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Smith's last regulation-time loss was Dec. 29 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The road has actually been kind to the Kings this season. Their 13 road victories are tied for second in the NHL and their 85.9 percent success rate at killing penalties away from home is the best in the league. The 114 goals allowed by the Kings is the second-lowest total in the NHL. But Sunday's 4-2 win at New York over the Rangers ended a six-game losing streak for L.A. The Kings rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit for that victory.
The Kings, who started the season 11-2-2, have won just five of their past 17 games. When Tanner Pearson's second-period goal gave L.A. a 3-2 lead against the Rangers, it ended a stretch of 362:52 in which the Kings had not held the lead in a game. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin has points in each of the last six games he's played (1-4-5). L.A. captain Anze Kopitar had two goals in his past 14 games and has scored just three times in 17 games. Goaltender Jonathan Quick was pulled after allowing five goals on 19 shots in Tuesday's loss.
The Kings are 0-2-1 in their last three against the Flames and 1-4-1 in thelr last six meetings. They are 1-3-0 in their last four visits to Calgary.
BABB Pick: Calgary Flames (-160)
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