SUN Hockey Pool

Goal brings sweet relief

Calgary Flames Matthew Lombardi celebrates his goal and the Flames third during third period NHL...

Calgary Flames Matthew Lombardi celebrates his goal and the Flames third during third period NHL hockey action against the Edmonton Oilers in Calgary, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2007. The Flames beat the Oilers 3-1.(CP PHOTO/Jeff McIntosh) CANADA

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

No longer does Jeff Friesen have to wonder if he's contributing to the cause.

And no longer does he have to let that television remote collect dust.

Having finally scored as a Calgary Flame, snapping a personal 50-game drought, Friesen became the latest to play hero by scoring the clutch goal that sparked a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers last night.

"Guys say if you're in a slump you won't turn on the TV," he said, explaing why he hid the remote. "When you play in the States, you're so mad you can't get Canadian coverage and try to find ways to get the Bell Express Vu. Now you move here and go through a slump and, honestly, I haven't watched any TV for months.

"I can actually turn the TV on and watch some highlights, now."

Tuning into what transpired before 19,289 at the Saddledome, he'd see what the team and fans have been anticipating all season.

With the Flames down by a goal and on the powerplay, Friesen grabbed a loose puck in the corner, whirled to the bottom of the faceoff circle and ripped a top-corner short-side offering past Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson.

A goal-scorer's goal.

"It's been a frustrating stretch," said Friesen, a former 30-goal scorer. "The team's playing really well and that's the main thing but you've got to contribute offensively.

"Hopefully, I'll just get it rolling offensively. You realize how good it feels when you score and hopefully I'll keep that feeling."

Head coach Jim Playfair made a sound akin to a valve releasing an endless stream of air before saying: "Nineteen thousand people at the same time exhaled. Of all the goals that were scored this year

I think our players on the bench felt the best for Jeff. That's when you know you've got guys that care and guys that want to see each other succeed."

The goal even set off an interesting celebration.

Friesen, after receiving the congratulations from his teammates, pointed to the press box. His target was Jamie Lundmark, who remains in need of his first goal of the season.

"It was just a fun thing," Friesen explained. "We're in the same boat. It's not fun when you're not scoring.

"You're trying to do little things that help contribute to the team but, at the end of the day, you can always see no goals. We've stuck together and I admire how hard he's worked. We've been there for each other."

Then it was time for the club's latest all-star to deliver what amounted to the knockout punch.

Defenceman Dion Phaneuf, named to the Western Conference squad for the showcase game later this month, notched the game winner in the third period with a powerplay goal of his own, albeit in a different manner than his usual.

Instead of a booming slapshot being the weapon of choice, Phaneuf was parked in front of the net while Kristian Huselius provided a stickhandling clinic before a seeing-eye pass Phanuef immediately slapped into the cage.

"Kristian made a great play to freeze everybody," said Phaneuf, who's scored nine of his 10 goals on the powerplay. "He's one of the most skilled guys in the league when he's got the puck and you've got to expect to get it. If he's got a hole, he's gonna slide it through. He got it through to me and I just tried to get it off as quick as I could."

Matthew Lombardi added the insurance goal for the Flames, who maintained their hold on first in the Northwest Division with a 24-15-4 record. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 21 shots for the team's fifth straight win. Shawn Horcoff replied for the Oilers, who sit last in the division at 21-20-4.


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