His injured hip stiffening up late in the game, Todd Bertuzzi had an adrenaline rush when he saw things were headed to a shootout.
"I love taking penalty shots. When I saw that coming up, I was hoping I'd get the nod. I spend a lot of time doing them," said the Calgary Flames forward, who scored the only goal in the showdown at the Saddledome last night to give the hosts a 5-4 win in a marathon affair against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"It just seemed like a long, long game. Like it was never going to end."
R.J. Umberger's pair of first-period goals seemed like an eternity ago by the time Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire signaled the end of the Flames' two-game losing skid.
So did the and game misconduct Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf received for slamming his shoulder into Umberger's back and pushing his face into the glass eight minutes into the contest
Unavailable for comment after the game, Phaneuf was tossed after being handed major penalties for boarding and fighting.
He had to drop the gloves with Blue Jackets defender Marc Methot, who came to Umberger's defence.
Losing their top-minute man to a game-misconduct 8:09 into the game might have put the Flames on even playing ground with the road-weary Blue Jackets, who started rookie Steve Mason in net for the 15th straight outing after losing a heartbreaker in Edmonton the night before.
Climbing back from one-goal deficits four times thanks to a two-tally night from Michael Cammalleri, Jarome Iginla snapping his eight-game drought, and David Moss' 15th of the season, the Flames head into the all-star break on a winning note.
And thanks to three saves from goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in the shootout. Kipper silenced Rick Nash -- who scored on a shorthanded breakaway to give the Jackets a 4-3 lead in the third period -- Jason Williams and Jakub Voracek, who netted his seventh of the year during the second period.
Of course, Bertuzzi's winner deserves kudos, too.
"Our money was on him," said Iginla, the only Flame headed to Montreal for this weekend's all-star activities.
"He's our guy in the shootout. He has a lot of different moves. It was great to see him do that coming off that rest.
"To get the shootout win at home was awesome."
After potting his 21st and 22nd goals of the season to give him eight scores in his last six games, Cammalleri acknowledged how tough it is for an injured player to make a difference in his first game back.
Bertuzzi, who had been sidelined with a hip flexor injury, did it perfectly.
"He won the game for us, didn't he? I'd call that an impact," said Cammalleri. "What a great move.
"He played really well. He obviously fills a big role in our lineup and it's nice to have him back."
Bertuzzi will be thankful for the rest during the break.
He nearly doubled his ice time with 10 shifts over the third period and overtime sessions, but had been sitting for long periods because of penalties.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say it was frustrating," Bertuzzi said.
"It was good at the start, and then (the hip) stiffened up near the end from sitting for a little while."
Looping wide left and coming across the crease to lift a backhander over Mason for the game-winner, Bertuzzi looked healthy enough.
"I know he's got a pretty decent glove, so I wanted to kind of fake like I was going back forehand, and just continue on and get it up," he said.
"Fortunately, I did."
And now the big winger knows how he'll hold up when action resumes next Wednesday at the 'Dome against the Buffalo Sabres.
"It would have been a longer break not knowing how it felt on the ice," Bertuzzi said.
"It was fun to be back out there and play again."