Kadri’s leadership shines as Flames end losing streak

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Nazem Kadri set the tone.

First, with a goal.

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Shortly after, with an assist.

And then with one hell of a bang, right in front of the home bench at the Saddledome.

His Calgary Flames teammates, the veterans and the rookies, the old and the young, the established and those still working on that part, took notice.

And they kept going, delivering one of their most complete outings of the season in Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

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“(Kadri) was dominant in that first period,” praised Flames rearguard MacKenzie Weegar. “Obviously, he gets that goal on the power play and then sets up someone for the other goal. And then the success, I thought was pretty big for us as well, setting the tone physically. Because I thought after that everyone got pretty involved on both sides of the ice. “A lot of guys woke up.”

This hasn’t exactly been a season of sweet dreams for the Flames.

While they are not mathematically eliminated yet, their hopes of making the playoffs are lost.

You’d never have guessed it from watching Kadri during Saturday’s win over the Kings, which he described afterward as “probably one of our best games of the season, from start to finish.”

The 33-year-old center opened the scoring with a man-advantage marker, executing a one-timer after a sly assist from Andrei Kuzmenko.

Two shifts later, he won a puck battle near the offensive blue line, moved away from a checkpoint and began a sequence that ended with an even-strength sniper by Martin Pospisil.

And then he leveled Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson, and in a prime location too.

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“That’s the best thing,” Weegar smiled when asked about the reaction when there’s a wicked hit in front of the bank. “That guy hears it, I’m sure.”

On what was a special night, with Kadri describing the atmosphere of the Flames’ first South Asian Celebration Game as “electric since the anthem,” No. 91 hit a backhander off the crossbar and won a crucial faceoff that resulted in Calgary’s third power. -play the goal of the afternoon. It was Weegar who lit that lamp.

“When you have guys that motivate them to win or hate losing more than they like winning, it’s contagious,” Flames head coach Ryan Huska said. “I think the fact that Naz continues to play the way he has for most of the year, I think he sends a really strong message to everyone. He has played on Stanley Cup championship teams. Blake (Coleman) has played with them. So they know very well what it takes to win.”

There is no truce despite the Flames’ position in the standings

There have been questions about whether Kadri, who signed a seven-year contract in Calgary after his title with the Colorado Avalanche in 2022, will want to stay during a renewal.

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Tonight, against an opponent who is known for his tough, heavy branding, he was certainly fully committed, not letting up on the gas at all.

Just ask Anderson, who had just thwarted a cleanup attempt when he was bulldozed by No. 91.

“I personally don’t care if we’re (out of a playoff spot)…” Kadri began, before recovering. “I mean, obviously I care, but it’s not going to change the way I play. I am going to approach all games in the same way. We are coming from a bad streak and we have made an effort to get off to a good start. I just felt like I tried to lead the way as best as I could.”

He did just that: lead by example.

And he was not alone.

Rasmus Andersson, after a valiant shot block, was unable to put any weight on his left foot as the Kings scored a power-play goal in the late stages of the middle frame. But guess who was trying to play goalie again in the third, kneeling to fill the line while Pierre-Luc Dubois shot?

Weegar finished the night with seven blocks, a big reason why the Kings took just 18 shots.

Coleman, who spent so much time in the opposing half that his swords could be dyed blue, scored the winning goal as the Flames snapped a five-game skid.

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“We all know what situation we are in: it will take a miracle to make the playoffs,” Andersson said during his post-game media meeting. “But we still show up on a night like tonight and block shots, hit, play a physical game, we’re against a really good team for 60 minutes. It was one of those nights where you look around and are proud to be on this team.”

Weegar echoed: “That’s what it takes to win in this league. “Sometimes it hurts.”

Kadri has won, that is, the grand prize.

Saturday, for a team that is supposed to be playing until the end, already focused on next season or perhaps the one after that, set the tone. There’s a reason he’s been wearing an ‘A’ on his sweater, and his leadership, in all its forms, was demonstrated in a star-studded performance against the Kings.

“I thought he was one of our best players,” Huska said. “When Naz is at his best, he drags people into the fight with him.”

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