The Los Angeles Kings goalie made a triumphant return to the site
of his greatest hockey achievement — at least before being one of
the NHL's best surprises of the season.
Jones, who backstopped the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen to
a league title in the Saddledome four years ago, made 24 saves in
the Kings' 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames Monday night.
"It was nice. I was excited to play here for sure," Jones said. "I
had four great years here.
"It's quite a bit different being here and being in this dressing
room but it's always fun to come to Calgary and obviously play in
this building. It's a totally different animal being here and at
this level and in this dressing room. I just wanted to make sure I
stayed focused. I was excited to be here but wanted to make sure I
was focused on the task at hand here."
The task was to earn another victory, and the unheralded and
undrafted 24-year-old netminder, who's second on the depth chart to
U.S. Olympian and star Jonathan Quick, improved his record to 10-4-0
record and three shutouts in just 14 NHL starts.
"I think he put on a really nice show tonight," said Kings center
Anze Kopitar. "He's been stellar for us. Every time he's been in the
net, he's been really good for us. Coming down the stretch here
we're going to need him to play like that. I don't know how many
games he's going to get. As long as he plays like he did tonight, I
think we'll be fine."
The Kings, the 2012 Stanley Cup champions, continue to be the NHL's
hottest team. Regardless which goalie is in the net, they're rolling
over the opposition. The Kings are riding an eight-game winning
streak, one shy of the franchise record set just before the 2010
During their run, the Kings have outscored the opposition by a 25-12
margin, which includes Monday tallies by right winger Justin
Williams, Kopitar and center Trevor Lewis, which staked them to a
"I think we're just playing our game," Kopitar said. "We're scoring
a few more goals than we did before. It's nice that we've got a
little streak going, but at the end of the day, as long as we get
the points that we need to make that final push for playoff seeding,
playoff positioning — whatever you want to call it — that's all
that counts right now."
While the Kings are ramping up their game in anticipation of another
lengthy playoff run, the Flames are all but mathematically
eliminated with just over a month remaining in the season.
They have been besieged by injuries to the point they have eight
rookies in the lineup. Still, the young squad fought to the end.
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Left winger Michael Cammalleri, who was earlier denied a sure goal
when Jones made a highlight-reel diving save, and right winger Brian
McGrattan scored just over two minutes apart in the final five
minutes to put a scare into the visitors.
"The way we played the last seven or eight minutes of the game, if
we played the whole game like that, the outcome could have been a
bit different," said McGrattan, the team's heavyweight, who has
scored goals in consecutive games. "The identity of our team, the
story of our team this year, is how we don't give up on games. It
was exciting, and we almost came back."
Flames goalie Joni Ortio stopped 20 shots in his fourth consecutive
start, and fifth of his NHL career, with No. 1 goalie Karri Ramo on
the shelf due to a knee injury suffered Feb. 1.
NOTES: Flames D Tyler Wotherspoon, who was recalled from the minors
on an emergency basis to fill out the defense corps, left the game
in the third period with an upper-body injury and did not return.
... Flames C Markus Granlund left the game in the first period with
an apparent shoulder injury after being hit by Kings C Jarret Stoll.
Head coach Bob Hartley said he believes Wotherspoon will be OK for
the next game, but said of Granlund: "It doesn't look too good." ...
Flames C Matt Stajan will remain away from the team indefinitely to
be with his wife, Katie, after the death of their newborn son last
week. Emerson Stajan was born March 3 but died within hours ...
Kings C Jordan Nolan received a one-game suspension for the sucker
punch he threw at Edmonton Oilers LW Jesse Joensuu on Sunday. Nolan,
who received two roughing penalties after the skirmish, forfeits
$3,589.74 in salary. It is Nolan's first NHL suspension, but he was
fined last season for a cross-check on Vancouver Canucks C Henrik
Sedin ... The Flames may have LW Curtis Glencross (ankle) and RW
Kevin Westgarth (concussion) back in time for Wednesday's game
against the Anaheim Ducks. ... The Kings return home to play the
Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
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