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Jiri Hudler sets up 2 early goals, Flames hold off Kings 2-1 for 3rd straight victory

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CALGARY, Alberta — Rookie Johnny Gaudreau has been the talk of Calgary lately, but veteran Jiri Hudler pulled the spotlight in his direction in the Flames' win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Hudler had a pair of beautiful setups as the Flames scored twice in the first period and then hung on to edge the Kings 2-1 on Monday night.

"It's huge. They're in our conference and they're Stanley Cup champs," Hudler said. "They've got a big, physical team. The last game in their building was a comeback, and we stuck with it tonight.

"It's great points for us."

Curtis Glencross and Markus Granlund had goals for Calgary, which has won three in a row since a seven-game losing streak.

Hudler made those goals possible.

"His hockey sense is unbelievable," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "He basically set up Granny and Glenny to open nets. That's the hockey sense, that's the vision that he has. He's a great passer."

Calgary pulled even with Los Angeles, San Jose and Vancouver in the Pacific Division. However, the Kings hold a game in hand, San Jose has two in hand, and the Canucks have four.

Tyler Toffoli scored for Los Angeles, which began a three-game road trip through Western Canada that continues Tuesday night in Edmonton.

With the teams meeting for the second time in a week, Calgary took a 1-0 lead at 12:13 of the first period on the eighth goal of the season for Glencross.

Carrying the puck with speed into the Kings end, Hudler curled sharply toward the sideboards, drawing lone defenseman Jake Muzzin toward him. With the middle of the ice opened, Hudler then slid a perfect pass to Glencross, who raced in alone for a wrist shot into the top corner past Jonathan Quick.

"There was a lot of open ice, and I was thinking about going for a change but seeing Jiri going in, I just bolted up the ice, and it worked out," Glencross said. "Haven't gotten too many of those this year where you're coming down the slot and you have that opportunity. Hopefully they keep on coming."

PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, left, tries to dive past teammate Matt Greene to stop a goal by the Calgary Flames during first period of an NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, left, tries to dive past teammate Matt Greene to stop a goal by the Calgary Flames during first period of an NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)

The Flames made it 2-0 just over a minute later on another pretty goal.

Skating up the wing, Gaudreau made a nice play to evade defenseman Matt Greene at the Los Angeles blue line, then drew the Kings' other defenseman, Alec Martinez, to the ice before sending a pass across to Hudler.

The instant the puck landed on Hudler's stick, he sent a touch pass back into the slot. With Quick fooled and caught way out of position, Granlund had an empty net to fire in his fifth goal of the season.

"Great play by Johnny and Huds, and I had an empty net. That was an easy goal for me," Granlund said. "We think the same way so it's fun to play with those guys."

Hudler's two assists gave him 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists). He moved ahead of Mark Giordano for the team scoring lead.

"We really didn't start pushing until the latter half of the second, and the third period we dominated," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "The reason why we lost was we had two quick lapses in the first period and they scored on them.

"We had to battle back from there on out."

Trailing 2-0, the Kings got a goal in the final minute of the second period. Toffoli scored on a breakaway after being sent in alone against goalie Jonas Hiller on a perfect pass by Dustin Brown.

Toffoli showed terrific hands in zipping a perfect backhander under the crossbar.

Toffoli had another great chance from the side of the net with less than 10 seconds to go in the second but was robbed by Hiller, who jabbed out his pad to deny the Kings' leading scorer.

"I tried to get it upstairs, but it was kind of rolling," Toffoli said. "If I put that in there, it's a totally different ending to the game."

Hiller also robbed Dwight King at the buzzer in the third period and finished with 26 saves to improve to 12-10-2. After giving up two or more goals in 15 straight starts, the Swiss goalie has allowed two total goals his last two games.

Quick had 13 stops in falling to 15-9-6.

NOTES: Los Angeles forward Marian Gaborik (flu-like symptoms) didn't play. He is on a six-game scoring streak. Taking his spot was Jordan Nolan, a healthy scratch the past eight games. ... Kings D Jeff Schultz made his season debut in place of Brayden McNabb. ... Flames C Mikael Backlund is getting closer to returning. He practiced with the team in a non-contact jersey. He has missed 27 games since having abdominal surgery.

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings Jarret Stoll, left, has his shot deflected by Calgary Flames goalie Jonas Hiller, from Switzerland, during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. Flames won 2-1. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)
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