Pride of Chuckie

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

The annual Chuck Kobasew breakout finally came.

After an extra long wait for the Saddledome faithful.

Kobasew, who seemingly manages to pump in a collection of pre-season points every fall, was at it again last night, pacing the Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at the Saddledome.

The right winger scored once and assisted on another to give Calgary its third straight exhibition-season victory.

Having lit up the AHL during the lockout, Kobasew finally ended a prolonged scoring slump at the NHL level, failing to tally in the final weeks of the 2003-04 season and through the 26-game playoff run.

"I've never doubted myself. I'm just going to keep doing the things I've done at every level and try to get better," he said. "You've got to get to those spots to get those chances."

On consecutive second-period shifts before the announced gathering of 17,439, Kobasew opened the scoring on a rebound shot and followed it by creating an opportunity that Steve Montador finished as Calgary assumed a 2-0 lead.

Assistant coach Jim Playfair said Kobasew looked exactly like the player who took his game to another level last season for AHL Lowell.

"I think he's really developed the confidence to play that way by doing it each and every night last year down in the American Hockey League and I don't see why he wouldn't continue that each and every night," Playfair stated.

Daymond Langkow's goal that made it 3-1 early in the third proved to be the game winner.

Brendan Morrison and Sami Salo scored for Vancouver, which remains winless in the pre-season.

The first meeting between the clubs since the Flames ousted Vancouver in the opening round of the 2004 playoffs had the opportunity to turn nasty thanks to a trio of questionable hits dished out by the visitors.

Ed Jovanovski leveled Byron Ritchie with an open-ice neutral-zone check ruled interference -- the Flames forward didn't come close to gaining possession of the puck -- and then pasted Rhett Warrener with a blind-sided check into the boards.

Upping the emotion meter was another blind-side check, this time from Vancouver pest Jarkko Ruutu on Ritchie, who was on the ice for several minutes, had to be helped to the dressing room and didn't return.

Despite having the opportunity to escalate, no fireworks were set off. In fact, the hits were outwardly downplayed by the Flames, including Chris Simon, who did exact some measure of revenge by putting up the dukes with Bryan Allen.

"When a game's over, it's over," Simon said. "It was a clean hit but sometimes when you have a guy in your tracks you let up and sometimes you don't but I hate to see one of our guys get hurt. We have to accept it's part of the game and go from there."

Flames goaltender Phil Sauve, in a battle for the backup post, stated his case with 26 saves. Though he needed a strong showing since Brent Krahn posted a shutout in his last outing, Sauve said that didn't enter his mindset.

"I just want to do my job, when I'm out there stop as many pucks as possible. That's not my decision," he said.

Dan Cloutier stopped 20 shots for Vancouver.

Calgary plays tonight in Edmonton and returns home to face the Oilers tomorrow night.


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