CALGARY – Daymond Langkow waited a long time for his third career hat trick. That it helped put the Calgary Flames on top of the Northwest Division made it even sweeter.
Langkow’s first three-goal outburst in nearly five years led Calgary to a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, allowing the Flames to leapfrog past Minnesota and Vancouver and into first place in the Northwest.
After scoring once in each of the first two periods, Langkow notched his 20th of the season 2:03 into the third period deflecting in Adrian Aucoin’s slap shot.
“It was exciting,” said Langkow, who reached the 20-goal mark for the sixth season in a row. “There are games where you get chance after chance and it doesn’t go in for you. Tonight was one of those nights where it was finding its way in.”
With the Pengrowth Saddledome crowd of 19,289 initially not sure whether Langkow deflected the point shot, just a few hats hit the ice. When the goal was credited to Langkow, another 50 or so fans joined in the hat-throwing parade.
It was the first three-goal game for Langkow since Jan. 24, 2003 against Edmonton, when Langkow was with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Craig Conroy, Stephane Yelle, and Matthew Lombardi also scored for Calgary (24-17-8).
Derek Armstrong scored the lone goal for Los Angeles (18-28-2), which saw its three-game winning streak come to an end.
“We made far too many mistakes both in the offensive zone and the defensive zone,” said Kings coach Marc Crawford. “They got the early lead, Jason (LaBarbera) really played well holding us in.
“In the second, we started to play a little bit better but the bounces kind of went their way and probably because they worked extremely hard tonight”.
With the Flames up 1-0, Langkow extended the lead at 10:48 of the first period when he was set up neatly in the slot by Kristian Huselius after Kings defenceman Rob Blake gave the puck away deep in his own end.
“Most of what we did tonight we did to ourselves,” said Los Angeles defenceman Tom Preissing. “In particular, both of the goals in the first period were little mistakes by our defencemen that don’t normally make those plays. When you’re not winning a ton of games, things like that really come back to hurt you”.
Langkow was again the benefactor of another superb set-up on his second of the night at 11:04 of the second period, putting Calgary ahead 3-0. This time it was Jarome Iginla spotting him open in the slot and threading a pass through a maze of Kings defenders.
“A couple nice passes, one from Kristian and a real nice one there from Jarome right through three guys,” said Langkow, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
After Yelle’s first goal in 19 games while shorthanded put the Flames ahead 4-0 at 15:32 of the second, Armstrong broke Miikka Kiprusoff’s shutout bid scoring less than two minutes later.
With newly signed back-up goaltender Curtis Joseph in uniform for the first time, Kiprusoff turned in a stellar game making 37 saves. After a sequence of spectacular stops with the Kings on a power play midway through the third period, chants of “Kipper, Kipper” could be heard from the appreciative crowd, many of whom stood up giving the Finnish goaltender a standing ovation.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said the Flames goaltender, making his 25th start in a row.
“Certainly Kiprusoff was excellent, in the penalty-killing in particular,” said Flames coach Mike Keenan. “He is focused on the aspect of winning more than anything else and that’s probably energizing him.”
Jean-Sebastien Aubin replaced LaBarbera to start the third period.
Los Angeles entered the night with the league’s fourth best power-play, but they went 0-for-9.
Notes: Calgary RW Owen Nolan (neck) did not play. … The Flames only play once in the next 11 days, next Tuesday at home versus Minnesota. … Having gone 54 games since his last goal, Mark Smith is the Calgary forward in the biggest scoring slump. Behind him are Eric Godard (40), Wayne Primeau (32) and Eric Nystrom (32). … Calgary LW Marcus Nilson was a healthy scratch for the 17th time in the last 19 games. Nilson remains one game shy of 500 for his career.