SUN Hockey Pool

Bert clutch when it counts

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

ST. PAUL -- Earlier in the game, Todd Bertuzzi thought he'd finally snapped his scoring drought, but instead the goal was awarded to Daymond Langkow.

Later, Bertuzzi failed to finish a pretty play and his frustration was obvious.

His relief after scoring the game -winner in the Calgary Flames' 3-2 overtime win last night over the Minnesota Wild was downright palpable.

The kind of relief you see from a player who scored for the first time in 20 games.

"I am an athlete and when things aren't going as expected, it obviously gets frustrating," said Bertuzzi, whose last goal was Nov. 2.

"At the same time, I still think I was doing things to help other guys score.

"It's a matter of doing the little things and getting the opportunities. I had three opportunities and was pretty happy to get the one in."

He's not alone there. Bertuzzi's teammates were nearly as happy to see him score as they were about a victory over their division rivals.

Especially in light of the scrutiny Bertuzzi has faced of late, not only regarding his scoring woes, but also his plus-minus -- now minus-13 -- and legal issues that flared up again this week when he and Steve Moore met for a mediation session.

"Oh, that's a great way to end it, eh," said captain Jarome Iginla. "A huge overtime goal, nice move, two guys on him ... it probably was going to be a penalty shot if he didn't score, I think I saw a ref's hand go up. That would have been suspenseful, but it was nice to see that go in.

"Everybody on the bench was not only happy to win, but happy for him."

Bertuzzi was sprung on a breakaway by Langkow, who dove to knock a loose puck across the ice for his linemate as he headed to the net.

With a couple of defenders draped on him, Bertuzzi lifted a backhand past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.

"Gotta give credit to Daymond," Bertuzzi said. "Daymond's an unsung hero guy who does all the dirty work and makes smart plays. That was a veteran play he did. It's nice to get another opportunity to get a break like that and I wanted to make sure I took advantage.

"I didn't have any other move. That was the only move I could do. It's been my bread and butter a long time, a move I'm comfortable with, and pretty much all I had because they were hunting me down."

Calgary won both halves of the two-game trip to run its record to 18-11-3. Minnesota, which started the season so well, has lost six straight and is seven points back of the Northwest Division-leading Flames at 15-13-2.

Craig Conroy also scored for the Flames, who now return to Calgary for a season-long five-game homestand which begins tomorrow against the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks.

"It's a good way to go home," Bertuzzi said. "The schedule's been pretty tough on us, a lot of travelling, back-to-back, four-hour flights and all that. We've got to make sure we get home, get some rest and take full advantage."

The Flames did just that against a struggling Wild team before the sellout crowd of 18,568 Xcel Energy Center, but it wasn't easy.

Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 25 shots for the victory, and was full measure for his first-star status. He robbed Antti Miettinen from point-blank range just before the winner.

Marian Gaborik, who returned after missing 27 games, had two points for the Wild, including the game-tying goal with less than five minutes to go in regulation.

Andrew Brunette also scored for the hosts and had a two-point affair.


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