Simon on the spot

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

Welcome back, Chris and Jarome.

A last-minute 3-2 win for the Calgary Flames came thanks to two players who, until last night, haven't played up to par: Chris Simon and Jarome Iginla.

The score was almost insignificant, although a handful of near goals on both sides of the ice made the third period an exciting one for the 18,118 members of the sellout crowd at Staples Center last night in Los Angeles.

Simon scored his first two goals of the year, including the winner on the powerplay with less than 30 seconds to play -- a wrist shot he roofed past Kings netminder Mathieu Garon.

He also assisted on Dion Phaneuf's tying goal, which floated behind Garon after it appeared to change direction as it passed through the crowd in front less than five minutes after the team's first marker.

Simon was relieved to get the goals and the win.

"It's awesome to get the win," said Simon sporting the shiny hard hat given to him by his teammates. "It was really important to the team.

"It's so much of a relief to finally put a puck in the net. It's was a great feeling."

Iginla finally showed the desire that elevated him to elite status among NHLers in 2004.

He shot the puck more often and with more enthusiasm than he has all season -- leading the team in that category. He looked as if he enjoyed carrying the play into the Kings zone and leaned with into his passes with equal aggression.

Iginla sported a wide smile after struggling to re-discover the personal touch that helped his Flames make it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

The Flames captain even dropped the gloves early in the first period, although he lacked a willing participant for a tussle. Seemingly awakened by Kings pest Sean Avery's hit to his back minutes into the game, Iginla quickly threw his mitts to the ice and reached for the controversial centre who disappeared into the developing crowd.

Iginla was pleased with his play but also happy for Simon.

"It's really nice to see him get them. Nice goals, too. He hit the post on another very good shot," said Iginla. "To find a way to win that in regulation is great.

"I felt better. I felt a lot better. I was moving more, skating better. Our powerplay was better, we got two."

For a while, it looked like it would be another power outage for the Flames.

They squandered seven man-advantage opportunities before Phaneuf's soft shot to the net got past Garon.

During a 5-on-3 in the second period the Flames moved the puck slowly and deliberately but when they finally released the shots, they either went wide, hit a body in front and stopped or drifted harmlessly past the Kings goal.

Calgary got on the board midway through the game when Simon tapped home a pass from pinching defenceman Andrew Ference for his first of the year.

Ference raced in to centre the loose puck after Simon's linemates Daymond Langkow and Chuck Kobasew both bounced shots off Garon.

Because of early penalty trouble, the Kings didn't get on a roll until the last four minutes of the opening period.

They scored twice before the buzzer sounded, though, on goals from veteran Luc Robitaille and centre Derek Armstrong.

Robitaille deflected Joseph Corvo's point shot past Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff 16:13 into the game after Alexander Frolov fed the defenceman with a long pass to the blueline during a powerplay.

Armstrong was also in the right place at the right time -- parked in front of Kiprusoff -- when defenceman Tim Gleason got a quick shot off while racing into the Flames end to reach the pass. Kiprusoff stopped the surprise attempt but Armstrong scooped up the rebound and shovelled it past the netminder.

The Kings thought they took the lead eight minutes into the third when winger Dustin Brown shot the puck past Kiprusoff but referee Mick McGeough waved the goal off because Armstrong was accidentally interfering in the crease.

- - -

CALGARY FLAMES: 3

LOS ANGELES KINGS: 2


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