CALGARY --Dustin Brown is usually the one throwing his weight around, but on Thursday night he got a taste of his own bone-jarring medicine.
The Los Angeles Kings captain, who entered Calgary's Pengrowth Saddledome ranked third in the league in hits, with 120, was lit up four times by Flames defenseman Mark Giordano -- and the team used that physical strategy to pound out a 2-1 victory before 19,289 fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
With the win, the Flames (20-10-4) halted a three-game losing skid and climbed back into a share of top spot in the Northwest Division.
"Calgary's a physical team. That's a staple of their game," said Brown, 25, of Ithaca, N.Y. "I'm used to hitting, and every once in a while you've got to take them.
"The first one was the one that upset me a little bit; (Giordano) had a chance to go shoulder on shoulder, and (went) for the head. All you hear about is head shots," Brown added. "After that, his other three hits on me were good, clean, hockey hits."
Nigel Dawes scored the winner for the Flames at the 1:02 mark of the third period. Dion Phaneuf also scored his first goal in 20 games for Calgary, which was credited with 26 hits overall.
"We were just trying to be physical on their top guys," said Giordano, a 26-year-old Toronto native, who decked an unsuspecting Brown with a clean shoulder hit in front of the Kings bench midway through the second period.
"They're a first-place team and a skilled team, so we just tried to limit their space and take the body whenever we had the chance."
The Kings (22-12-3) remain tied with the Sharks atop the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings with 47 points.
Los Angeles, which has lost eight straight games at the Saddledome stretching back to December 2005, is now idle until Dec. 26, after playing 10 games in 17 days.
The Kings outshot the Flames 16-3 over the final 20 minutes, finally got on the board at 11:06 of the third on Corey Elkins' first career NHL goal, and, despite a pair of Justin Williams minor penalties in the final four minutes, poured it on until the final whistle.
Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff was again magnificent, frustrating Williams, linemate Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty time and again. Those three alone accounted for 19 of the Kings' 35 shots on goal.
Goalie Jonathan Quick turned aside 22 Calgary shots. Coach Terry Murray was proud of his club, which battled to the bitter end Thursday.
"They came out with a real hard and heavy game, a gritty game," Murray said. "They look at our lineup, they're seeing a lot of guys that we've called up from the American League, and they're trying to push us out of the game with a lot of heavy play.
"I was real proud of our guys in that sense, that we didn't go away … we had a lot of great scoring chances going right down to the last faceoff. That's an indication of how the team has grown this year … we've been in the battle right from the start of the season.
"There were two points out there for us. We really felt, in the middle of that third period, that we could get two points out of this game, because of the way the flow was going. If it's not for Kiprusoff, in my mind, we end up winning the game."
The Flames improve to 9-5-1 at the Saddledome, where they'll play six of their next seven games.
Dawes scored the winner, his 10th goal of the campaign, on a give-and-go with linemate Daymond Langkow after rookie L.A. defenseman Alec Martinez had coughed up the puck trying to feather it up the boards.
"That was a big goal," Flames coach Brent Sutter said, "and it started with a good play by our defense keeping the puck in the zone.
"For the most part, I thought our team played hard here tonight. It was positive in the sense that we wanted to get back to playing more like we can. And this was a very good opponent. It was a hard-fought game. We'll certainly take the win. It was a big two points for us."
Phaneuf, a former Norris Trophy finalist, wired a shot from the blue line past Quick with 0.7 seconds left in the first period for his seventh goal of the season.
The Flames executed the drill to perfection, as Olli Jokinen won the faceoff with 2.4 seconds left, and captain Jarome Iginla, stationed along the boards, fed the puck into Phaneuf's cannon.
"Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't," said Phaneuf, who hadn't scored since Nov. 5 at St. Louis. "I was hitting posts, getting pucks on net. I was getting them through … they just weren't going (in).
"It was a big one for me to get, but I've been there before."