No drought about it

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Fans had to wait a while to see Shean Donovan's trademark leap against the glass in person at the Saddledome.

Almost 20 months, in fact.

Donovan scored the Calgary Flames' second goal in Thursday's 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild, his first on home ice since he netted the game-winner in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal against Detroit April 27, 2004.

So forgive him if his technique was a little sloppy.

"I haven't had much practice. It's been tough," said Donovan with a laugh yesterday after breaking his 34-game drought with his second goal of the season.

"I was pretty excited. It's fun when you get a goal to go out there and wheel around."

He hadn't lit the lamp since the Flames' second game of the year, a 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets in Columbus.

At times, Donovan thought the second one would never come.

But a quick change of direction and determined drive around the back of the Wild net took care of that in the second period Thursday.

"I went around (the net) and Todd White, who I used to play minor hockey with (in Ontario), he kind of went back to the front of the net and I came around and wrapped it," said Donovan of the play. "I wish I could say that I picked the five-hole. I just threw it out, tried to make a wrap-around and ended up scoring."

Donovan delayed his celebration until he had visual confirmation the puck crossed the line.

"I took a double look at it and made sure it was in."

The speedy support winger has been steadily improving recently, showing more drive to the net and a desire to carry the puck up the ice. As part of the fourth line alongside Chris Simon and Jason Wiemer, he nearly doubled his points for the season with a goal and an assist against the Wild.

"I knew I was starting to feel a lot better going into Vancouver," said Donovan. "I started feeling good and confident again, wanting the puck and stuff. It was a lot better feeling. When you start playing better, if the goals don't come then that happens. But if you're not getting chances, that's brutal. You've got to be out there trying to get chances, at least."

Donovan wasn't the only Flame to snap a slump Thursday. Linemate Wiemer scored his first of the season with a deadly accurate wrister over Dwayne Roloson's shoulder to give the Flames a little insurance.

Wiemer's last goal was even further in the past than Donovan's. It came March 4, 2004, against Los Angeles -- as a member of the Wild.

The fact the duo scored important goals on the same night wasn't lost on the 6-ft. 1-in., 226-pounder.

"It's great. We cheer for each other," said Wiemer after the game. "We're happy to see each other do well."

Simon, who snapped his own 16-game goal drought with a beauty in Vancouver last week, said the trio has been talking about becoming more productive recently.

"We've talked a lot, the three of us together, that we have to start contributing more offensively to take the pressure off the other two lines," said Simon after yesterday's optional skate. "We have to be a physical presence every night but when you get goals from your third and fourth line, it's going to help you win games. It did in Vancouver and it did last night.

"We knew we had to start stepping up. It's finally starting to go in for us."

- - -

SLUMP BUSTERS

* SHEAN DONOVAN

DROUGHT SNAPPED: 34 games

WHEN: Dec. 29 vs. Minnesota

PREVIOUS GOAL: Oct. 7 vs. Columbus

* JASON WIEMER

DROUGHT SNAPPED: 24 games

WHEN: Dec. 29 vs. Minnesota

PREVIOUS GOAL: March 4, 2004 playing for Minnesota vs. L.A.

* CHRIS SIMON

DROUGHT SNAPPED: 16 games

WHEN: Dec. 23 vs. Vancouver

PREVIOUS GOAL: Oct. 23 vs. Los Angeles


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