SUN Hockey Pool

Amonte did it!

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

To suggest Tony Amonte got the monkey off his back with his first goal in 32 outings last night is an insult to Nick Schultz.

After all, it was Schultz who was literally sitting on Amonte's spine when Amonte's centring pass from deep in the corner was redirected past a stunned Manny Fernandez by his own player, Wes Walz.

Sprawled on his belly, Amonte celebrated his 13th goal of the year by banging his helmet on the ice, which is symbolic of how he's felt the last 31 games.

A 400-goal scorer who was dumped by Philly and acquired by the Flames last summer to, well, um, score, it was a long time coming, no doubt.

But it was hardly worth celebrating given the last time the 35-year-old winger found the net was almost three months ago against the Wild when his goal came in the final minute of a 4-1 win which he punctuated with an empty netter against the same Wild.

Not exactly the type of inspired marksmanship expected from the eight-time 30-goal scorer who was one of five Flames Darryl Sutter was counting on to score 20 goals this year.

"Coming into this season I really wanted to score more," said the hard-hat wearing Amonte, taking a deep breath when asked to assess his season.

"Maybe on some other team you might be able to but here we play four lines, work hard at both ends ... heck, I'd rather be here scoring 13 goals than be in Chicago scoring 40 and missing the playoffs."

While he's had no option but to focus on the positives of being an extremely diligent backchecker who has also contributed with key assists from time to time, the hard-working Amonte knows he's come up lame too often when handed scoring opportunities during the stretch.

Three nights ago, he chalked up a botched one-timer in the slot to a cracked stick. Last night, he outright whiffed on a similar setup.

Prone to panic these days when handed gifts around the opposition's net, Amonte has routinely fired high, wide or a combination of both when the low-scoring Flames could've really used his help. When he had hit the net during the slump, he'd been turned away on 54 consecutive shots on goal.

Until last night.

Still, it wasn't his fluke from the corner that had everyone talking, it was his setup on Jamie Lundmark's game winner. Highlighting an evening alongside Matthew Lombardi and Lundmark who made up the game's best trio by far, Amonte punctuated a typically strenuous shift of forechecking by winning a tough battle for the puck behind the net. He spotted Jamie Lundmark in the slot and wired him a bullet the Flames newbie snapped home for the winner in a 2-1 game.

"The pass," said Amonte, when asked if he was prouder of the goal or assist.

"It's always nice to score even if it doesn't come off your stick. But it's nicer to contribute and help ol' Lundy there -- he's on a streak."

Indeed Lundmark has been impressive since arriving in Calgary. Returning to the lineup after an eye injury, he complimented Amonte and Lombardi, especially considering it was their first time together.

"We seemed to click out there and I know everybody wanted Tony to score," said Lundmark.


Videos

Photos