LOS ANGELES — D-day is coming fast for Sean Monahan.
It’s hard to believe the decision hasn’t already been made, but if the Calgary Flames were wondering whether to keep their 2013 first-round draft choice for the season instead of sending him to junior, Monahan put yet another positive checkmark in the box.
Monahan scored his team-high sixth goal of the season in the Calgary Flames 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings Monday night. It’s a remarkable feat for a rookie whose hit the scoresheet in seven of eight games this NHL season.
Late in the second period, and with the Flames on the powerplay, Monahan scored the kind of gritty goal the hockey world and coaches appreciate immensely, banging a rebound past Jonathan Quick to the chagrin of the Staples Center sellout crowd of 18,118 fans.
“He has some parts of the game he has to learn, but on the flipside, he has so much to offer,” Flames head coach Bob Hartley said about Monahan after the morning skate. “The puck comes to him, he’s very good around the net and has a good sense for offence.”
The Flames can return Monahan to the junior ranks before he plays 10 games and the first year of his entry-level contract will kick in next season.
His goal, which gives him nine points, puts him second on the team only to Jiri Hudler, whose second period assist continued his point-scoring streak to eight games making him the last remaining player in the NHL this season to net at least one point in every outing.
Monahan’s strong start to the season was fine and good before this road swing, but all along everybody knew the big test for the player drafted sixth overall would be how he fared against the big and talented veteran centres for the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks and the Kings.
Opposing coaches have tried to take advantage of the matchup since they had last change, and the youngster has not disappointed. Proof being the fact he played more than 20 minutes against a physical and intimidating Kings team that has incredible depth at centre and has excelled.
“Defensively, I really like his improvement,” Hartley said. “He’s paying attention to details, he’s not a liability for us — and that’s remarkable for a 19-year-old kid.”
Speaking of remarkable, the Flames also received a big boost with Michael Cammalleri’s return to the lineup after missing the first seven games — and almost all of the pre-season — do to a hand injury.
Cammalleri, a pending UFA who was the last season’s scoring champ, scored once and assisted Monahan’s marker.
The capper for the team was TJ Brodie’s powerplay goal with 29.4 seconds left.
The special teams news for the Flames wasn’t all good, though.
The Flames’ putrid penalty killing, which was victimized three times in the previous outing in San Jose, was burned again when Drew Doughty opened the scoring with a man-advantage marker.
Then, Jeff Carter’s short-handed goal late in the second period made it a 2-2 game, where it stayed until the final minute.
Flames goalie Karri Ramo, making his second consecutive start after riding the bench since the season-opener, made 27 saves to get his first win and improve the club’s record to 4-2-2.
Quick stopped 22 shots for the Kings (6-4-0).
The Flames road swing continues Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
FLAMES' LIVE CHAT
It's been an 0-and-2 start for the Flames on their road swing.
They hope to avoid going winless in the Golden State tonight when they take to the ice in Los Angeles against the Kings.
Karri Ramo gets the start in net, while rookie Sean Monahan has a just a couple of games left to prove he should stay with the team.
Randy Sportak will be live from the Staples Center. Join him, and the rest of Team Sun for live updates and commentary.