Working on your birthday is a chore at the best of times.
For Jason LaBarbera, it became a night he'd rather to forget.
The Calgary Flames, though, did manage to get him a gift: Front row seats to the third period.
The Flames spoiled the Los Angeles goaltender's 28th birthday, piling up five goals over two periods during a 6-1 win over the Kings at the Saddledome last night to claim top spot in the Northwest Division.
LaBarbera, who calls Calgary his home in the off-season, was replaced by Jean-Sebastien Aubin for the third.
But Aubin didn't have it any easier as Daymond Langkow tipped home his third of the night and 20th of the season with a beautiful deflection past the replacement just 2:03 into the final frame.
"O3 out of 5 no ... that'd be a tough one," said Langkow with a grin when told it was LaBarbera's birthday.
Langkow's third career hat-trick, and first since 2003, was met by an delayed response from the crowd, which waited until his final goal was announced before throwing their hats onto the ice to join the lonely few that came early.
The tip pushed a blast by Adrian Aucoin into the top shelf, and Langkow said he was fortunate it worked out in his favour.
"I was actually lucky I didn't get hurt there," he said. "I was standing there trying to screen the goalie and Okie (Aucoin) took a pretty hard slapper. It just, by chance, hit my shaft and went in.
"Lucky it didn't miss my stick."
While Miikka Kiprusoff's 37 saves ensured Langkow's contribution would be enough on its own, the Flames got contributions from all facets of the lineup.
Thirteen different Flames tallied at least a point as the team earned its second straight win after dropping four in a row to cause a little concern in Cowtown.
"Hopefully this is a trend that can continue," said Flames centre Craig Conroy, who started the scoring by depositing a David Moss rebound into an empty cage in the first period.
"I think if we can get that balanced scoring, it's going to make us that much more potent."
After Langkow made it a 3-0 lead at the midway point, Stephane Yelle padded the cushion a little more with a shorthanded marker.
Racing up the ice on a 2-on-1 with speedster Matthew Lombardi, the veteran sold the pass before snapping a perfect shot over LaBarbera's shoulder.
Not to be outdone, Lombardi netted one himself with 35 seconds to play in the second period.
While the Flames dominated the first period with 18 shots to the Kings' half-dozen, the visitors stormed back at Kiprusoff, who was his team's best player over the final 40 minutes.
Showing the Kings what they're missing most behind a cast of talented young players, the former Vezina winner was one blooper away from earning his first shutout of the season.
A giveaway by Jarome Iginla late in the second period -- just as scribes in the press box began to look up the last time Kiprusoff had blanked an opponent -- led to Derek Armstrong's lone tally for the Kings.
LaBarbera's birthday wish must have found the Flames netminder instead.
"Ugh. Feel bad for Barb but I'm happy for us," said Conroy, a good friend and former teammate of Labarbera's. "He can celebrate it next game against (Vancouver)."