Installed on his club's top line as part of a bold gamble, Simmonds scored a key goal as the Kings overcame an early two-goal deficit and beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in overtime in the second game of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The win gave the Kings a split of the first two games in Vancouver as they head back home for Monday's third game.
"I've played with those guys a couple times this year," said Simmonds, a 21-year-old, Scarborough, Ont., native who is in his second NHL season. "I kind of know their tendencies. So it wasn't too hard for me."
The sophomore winger's second-period goal on a pass from Kings' top scorer Anze Kopitar midway through the second period created a 2-2 tie after L.A. trailed 2-0 in the first period. The goal came only 35 seconds after Fredrik Modin's power play marker put the Kings on the scoreboard.
In the boldest of a series of bold moves, Kings' bench boss Terry Murray inserted Simmonds alongside stars Kopitar, who scored the winning goal, and workhorse Ryan Smyth. Simmonds replaced Justin Williams, who lost his place in the lineup as Murray scratched three veterans and replaced them with three young players.
The moves contradicted the extensive praise Murray had showered on his club after their 3-2 overtime loss on Thursday.
"Simmonds played tremendously tonight," said Murray. "He was twice the player that he was in Game 1, I thought. He was just more aware of what was going on."
Usually asked to play more of a grinding role, Simmonds recorded two shots and finished plus-one on the night. He helped his line combine for nine shots as the Kings outshot the Canucks 32-26.
"Kopi's unbelievable.... He's like a wizard with the puck," said Simmonds. "So playing with those two guys is like a dream come true for me."
The winger said he just tried to let Kopitar and Smyth play their usual game while doing his own thing.
Murray also banished defenceman Randy Jones and enforcer Raitis Ivanans to the press box as rearguard Peter Harrold and wingers Rich Clune and Scott Parse stepped into the lineup for their first ever NHL playoff game.
Harrold played 15 minutes while Clune and Parse toiled for six and a half minutes and seven and a half minutes, respectively. All three were even in the plus-minus department.
"To be able to get a split, to play in this building and deal with the emotion of playing in Canada, it was a real good, solid team effort tonight," said Murray. "The young guys played well. They played like veterans for me. They played with a lot of composure and did the right things."