SUN Hockey Pool

Hook, line and wrister

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Coming from that far away and with so little velocity, there had to be an explanation.

Knuckle-ball, maybe?

Change-up?

Something special that would catch a goaltender off guard?

"No, that was number one. Straight heat," deadpanned Robyn Regehr of his long wrister that proved to be the turning point in the Calgary Flames' 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks last night at the Saddledome.

"That was all I've got for a wrist shot. It's not how hard you shoot it, I guess. It's just where you put it."

His second tally of the season is proof positive.

Stationed at the point, at least 65 feet away from the cage, Regehr broke a 1-1 tie midway through the third period when his low offering somehow eluded the outstretched trapper of Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov to the delight of the capacity crowd of 19,289.

The goal absolutely demoralized a struggling Sharks squad that has now dropped seven straight outings (0-4-3).

Nabokov accepted blame.

"We were playing a really good game, a disciplined game. The kind of game we wanted," said Nabokov.

"Unfortunately, that type of mistake at the wrong time killed us."

In a perfect study of contrast, Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff kept the score even seconds earlier by blocking Sharks forward Mark Smith's one-timer attempt on a two-on-one.

Flames forward Tony Amonte called it an unbelievable save.

"Those are the saves Kipper has been making all year and people come to expect them out of him," said Amonte, whose late third-period tally proved the game winner.

"It's nice to know you've got a guy like that back there playing net for you."

Regehr also couldn't help but gush about it.

"How many times have you seen that in a hockey game? A goaltender makes a great save or something happens down at one end and then guys go down the other way and end up scoring," he said. "It swings the tide."

By claiming their eighth home-ice victory of the month, and NHL-best 10th on the season, the Flames improved their record to 14-8-2 and again drew even with Vancouver for top spot in the Northwest Division. But it didn't come easy.

"That was probably the hardest game of the year," said Amonte.

"It's just we out-willed them in the end and took it away."

The clash of the Western Conference championship combatants from the 2004 playoffs had almost a post-season feel with the close-checking play.

Scoreless through the first period, the deadlock was broken midway through the contest when Roman Hamrlik drilled a one-timer over Nabokov's shoulder.

San Jose's Grant Stevenson, the grandson of Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall, made his NHL debut a double delight when he evened the count early in the third by slipping a rebound shot past Kiprusoff.

Amonte's goal changed from insurance tally to game-winner because Tom Preissing tallied with eight seconds remaining.

Though not a busy night, Kiprusoff scored the win over his former club with a 20-save performance.

Calgary will conclude the home portion of November tomorrow night when Edmonton comes calling for the next instalment of the Battle of Alberta.


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