He's jammin'

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

 The Calgary Flames are learning something about Martin Gelinas the Carolina Hurricanes knew long ago.

 And what the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers knew before them.

  The kid has a knack for big goals.

 Overtime winners, in fact.

 "Oh yeah, he's a wonder," said Paul Maurice, the former longtime head coach of the Hurricanes. "Marty's been able to score some huge goals. He's going to get to be known for that."

 Already is around here thanks to his OT production in the last two playoff games.

 To end Thursday's Game 1 in Detroit, Gelinas did all the hard work on the winning goal scored by Flames teammate Marcus Nilson in the extra session.

 And, of course, Gelinas shovelled home the OT winner in Game 7 to advance the Flames past the Canucks and into this second round against the Detroit Red Wings.

 It rivalled the overtime winner he netted two seasons ago to extend Carolina's Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup final. With that one, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final series, Gelinas eliminated the heavily favoured Toronto Maple Leafs.

 He's also scored OT playoff goals with two of the other three NHL teams on which he's played -- the Oilers and Canucks. All totalled, Gelinas has 17 goals and 45 points in 129 career playoff games.

 "I don't know what it is," said Maurice, Gelinas' coach with the 'Canes from 1997-2002. "Marty's probably got a lot of bad breaks around the net. He's been burned through the course of the regular season. But it's like karma for him, because then in the playoffs, they start going in for him."

 The only one that didn't go in for him came in Game 4 of the 1999 first-round series against the Boston Bruins. On a how'd-he-miss-it potential OT winner that would have given the 'Canes a 3-2 series lead, Gelinas "double-hit the puck" over an open net -- arguably deflecting the puck off the stick of Ray Bourque. Anson Carter subsequently buried a double-OT chance to win it for the Bruins.

 "Freakishly bad luck," said Maurice, whose 'Canes never scored again in losing the series in six games.

 "Every time I think about that goal, I always think about how he paid his dues and finally got the conference final goal in Toronto. I'll gladly trade that one in for the goal in Toronto. That was huge."

 Truly, it was the biggest in the 'Canes franchise history.

 And fittingly, says Maurice, Gelinas scored it, playing alongside youngsters Josef Vasicek and Jaroslav Svoboda.

 "That was certainly our best line for the entire two months of those playoffs. Marty drove that line.

 "And Carolina never replaced him," when he signed with the Flames on July 2, 2002.

 "He's always been a great pro," continued Maurice, who joined CBC's Hockey Night in Canada earlier this season after being relieved of his coaching duties in Carolina. He is set to do late-round playoff analysis for Rogers Sportsnet.

 "Things weren't always smooth between Marty and I about his role. But even when that was happening, he kept on working. His heart was always in it."

 Just as it is these days with the Flames.

 "You can see it," Maurice added. "He just works so hard in front of the net. Without question, it's where he does his best work.

 "And I'm an incredibly superstitious guy. So whenever Marty gets his face cut, I've always said he's going to get a goal. When you see him coming back to the bench bleeding, you know he's going to score.

 "To see how hard he works, he deserves it. I just like watching the guy play."


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