Licence to thrill

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

Konstantin Pushkarev can't even tie his shoelaces in a conventional manner.

The flashy rookie import can be a coach's worst nightmare at times. At others, he's a gamebreaker.

Much to head coach Kelly Kisio's relief, it was the latter last night.

Pushkarev scored a risky, highlight-reel breakaway goal midway through the third period last night to give the Hitmen a 2-1 win over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers.

And Kisio was all smiles talking about the Los Angeles Kings prospect.

"He's an interesting young man," Kisio said after his club tamed the Tigers for the first time in six tries this season.

"It's better when it goes in but I'd much rather he'd just shoot the puck.

"But he's the type of kid who can make it happen."

With the Central Division rivals deadlocked at one, Pushkarev took a pass from Brett Carson and skated in all alone on Tigers 'tender Matt Keetley.

The shifty winger faked a shot, kept skating to Keetley's glove side but then dragged the puck behind him and tucked it in with one hand in Peter Forsberg-like fashion.

The 20-year-old was ecstatic after potting the game winner in grand style.

"It was a pretty good goal," Pushkarev beamed. "I'm very excited.

"Hockey is an exciting game."

Pushkarev, who has thrilled the Saddledome fans all year with his unpredictable, exciting style, said he perfected the move overseas.

"In Russia, it's easier because the goalie moves with you," Pushkarev said. "Here, it's a little different.

"But the goalie moved with me and I saw that so I brought the puck back with one hand."

The Hitmen improved to 33-21-8-4 on the season and moved to within two points of the second-place Tigers in the Central Division. Medicine Hat has three games in hand.

Calgary's 1-0 lead went up in smoke early in the third period.

Clarke MacArthur blazed into the Hitmen zone on a Tigers powerplay and fed Kris Russell, who was turned away by Justin Pogge. But Jarret Lukin chipped the rebound into an empty net. Pogge recovered from a rough outing in Lethbridge Sunday and was sharp in the opening period, turning aside all 12 shots that came his way as the Tigers came up empty on three powerplay opportunities.

Calgary made good on its only man advantage. D-man Jeff Schultz's point shot was blocked in front but caromed to Tyrel Lucas at the side of the net for his 16th of the campaign.

The Hitmen nearly padded their lead early in the middle frame.

Ryan Getzlaf created a turnover at the Medicine Hat blueline, pulled the puck around a sprawled defender and found Pushkarev at the other side of the net but his shot went off the post and settled underneath Keetley.

The Tigers also tested the iron later as world junior d-man Cam Barker's shot was deflected in the high slot and bounced off the post to Pogge's stick side. Kris Russell jumped on the rebound but flubbed the shot.

Pogge made his best stop with just over two minutes to play when he shot out the left pad to deny Clarke MacArthur.

The shots were even at 17 apiece through 40 minutes.


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