Bourque rounds into form

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

His first goal since returning from an undisclosed injury that kept him out of a half-dozen contests wasn't the prettiest of his career, but it punctuated a point for Rene Bourque.

The empty netter with 40 seconds to go in regulation also made up for a slightly embarrassing miss earlier in the game.

The point Bourque made throughout the 3-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers was he's back to playing the way he was before a check knocked him out of action Nov. 19 --throwing his body around and charging to the net.

That tactic led to a golden opportunity in the second period, when a rebound from Dustin Boyd's shot skipped right to the winger.

Draped all over him was a Thrashers defender, but Bourque still got a clean swipe at the puck with nothing but net in front of him.

It went wide right, and as Bourque curled to the left, he raised his head as if asking the hockey gods what he had done to deserve such a miss.

"I knew the puck was coming. As soon as Boyd shot it, I knew I was going to have a good chance," Bourque said yesterday after practice as the Flames prepared for tonight's match against the Minnesota Wild.

"When I went to hit it, I was getting hooked at the same time, so I kind of bared down on it a little bit extra. Right before I shot it, he kind of let go, so my arm kind of just whipped over.

"I just overreacted on it."

He made no mistake in the dying seconds as he salted away the Flames victory with a slow approach that escorted the puck across the goal-line to end any hope of a Thrashers comeback.

Celebrating a goal with no tender guarding the crease isn't normally encouraged, but Bourque deserved it after posting a team-high five shots on the night and suffering the haunting of his missed opportunity for more than 20 minutes.

He also earned the right after stuffing Ilya Kovalchuk on the blueline and escaping for the breakaway with the Thrashers goalie pulled.

"Oh, it was nice -- especially after I missed that one in the second period. It just kind of got my mind off of it," Bourque said of his eighth goal of the season and first in five games.

"Kovalchuk kind of got a bad pass. It was bouncing on him. I put some pressure on him and poked the puck away from him."


Videos

Photos