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CALGARY, Alberta – Jiri Hudler scored twice and the Calgary Flames clinched an NHL playoff berth for the first time in six years with a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
The Kings saw their postseason aspirations come to an end with the loss. It's the first time since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006-07 that the defending Stanley Cup champions have failed to make the playoffs the following season.
Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary (45-29-7). Winners of five of their last six, the Flames wrap up the regular season in Winnipeg on Saturday against the Jets, who clinched the second wild-card spot with the Kings' loss.
Jordan Nolan scored for Los Angeles (39-27-15), which finishes the year winless in its final five games on the road.
The Flames will play the Canucks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Calgary jumped to a 1-0 lead at 12:50 on play that started and finished with Gaudreau. After crossing the blue line, Gaudreau curled and patiently hung on to the puck before feeding Hudler, who hammered a shot that went off the end boards and caromed back in front where Gaudreau's shot trickled over Jonathan Quick's shoulder.
The Flames made it 2-0 just over two minutes later. Set up by Mason Raymond, Hudler picked the top corner with a 40-footer.
Los Angeles finally solved Jonas Hiller five minutes into the third period. Alec Martinez's shot from the corner was stopped, but the rebound into the slot was quickly buried by Nolan.
The atmosphere in the Scotiabank Saddledome was electric. The raucous sellout crowd of 19,289 got going early as Calgary started fast and would have taken the lead even sooner if not for a couple great saves from Quick. Calgary outshot Los Angeles 15-8 in the first period.
The Kings pushed back in the second period but couldn't get any closer despite a 12-4 edge in shots.
Quick finished with 22 stops to fall to 35-22-13.
Hiller made 33 saves to improve to 26-19-4.
Notes: With Lance Bouma (upper body) sidelined, Brandon Bollig was back in the Calgary lineup. ... Dressed as Hiller's back-up was Joni Ortio. The Flames top goaltending prospect was activated Thursday after missing six-plus weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered in the AHL on Feb. 20. ... Calgary has gone over 11 periods since its last penalty kill. ... Calgary last faced Vancouver in the playoffs in 2004.