The Calgary Flames maintained their eight point lead over the Vancouver Canucks with an overtime win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Adrian Aucoin scored the game winner with a hard slap shot that bounced off the Wild defenseman and into the net. Moments before scoring the goal he had a great breakaway chance that rang off the iron.
"He's been good," Mike Cammalleri told Calgary Flames PPV. "He's very dangerous offensively."
It wasn't all good news for Calgary as Rene Bourque suffered an ankle injury at the hands of Dan Fritsche. Fritsche took Bourque down on the boards and then went on to score a shorthanded goal in the same shift.
Keenan wasn't happy that Fritsche wasn't called on the play.
"It was a disappointment," Keenan told the media after the game. "He (Fritsche) went in and slewfooted him and put him in awkward position."
When asked about Bourque's injury Keenan didn't give a timeline for a return.
"He's going to be gone for a long time."
Tuesday saw the Flames fall to the Vancouver Canucks in a 4-3 SO heartbreaker, allowing the Canucks to sneak into fifth place in the Western Conference with 64 points. They picked up another two points tonight with a win over the Ottawa Senators.
"The guys definitely weren't happy," said Bourque of the loss. "We still got a point so we have to move forward."
Bourque scored his 20th goal of the year on Tuesday, setting a new career high for the Lac La Biche native.
"It was nice," said Bourque. "That was something I always wanted to accomplish. To hit 20 was something special and something I'll remember for a long time."
Bourque's success hasn't just come from one set of linemates. He's played with almost every forward on the team.
"I've been playing with great players and I owe my lineups a lot to getting me there so quick."
He's been playing with Craig Conroy and Jarome Iginla lately and that combination is something he's quite happy with.
"I like playing with Conny. He's still got a lot of speed and is a great passer, " said Bourque. "I haven't played too much with Iggy but everyone knows what kind of player he is."
There was two changes in the lineup for the Flames. Daymond Langkow, who was hit in the wrist with a puck on Tuesday, and Andre Roy, who was hurt in his fight with Darcy Hordichuk, did not play. Jim Vandermeer and Brandon Prust returned to the lineup to replace the two forwards.
This was Prust's 22nd game of the year. He has a goal and assist this campaign.
"You just have to be ready, physically and mentally, and it's the same game as when you left it," said Prust on his return to the lineup.
Cal Clutterbuck got the game started with a big hit on Mark Giordano. Clutterbuck has been the NHL's hit machine this season. He leads all players with 218 hits prior to this game.
"He’s a type of guy who likes to finish his checks. He just fell on the right team at the right time." said Minnesota head coach Jacques Lemaire.
Bourque opened the scoring at 3:17. He tried to pass to Jaroma Iginla, who was waiting at the front of the net, but the pass bounced off Andrew Brunette and went right back to Bourque. The unassisted tally was Bourque's 21st of the season.
The Wild have now allowed opposing teams to score first 28 times. Of those 28 games, the Wild have only won seven.
The Flames kept the pressure up after the first goal with Matthew Lombardi and David Moss getting quality scoring chances.
The Wild didn't get their first shot on net until Brunette backhanded the puck at Miikka Kiprusoff at 9:31.
The Xcel Energy Centre wasn't at all pleased with the hometown team during the first frame. The Wild weren't able to generate offense, sending only four shots on net in the first 16 minutes, and had a very hard time getting the puck out of their own zone. Almost all of the Wild's shots came from the perimeter and were easy saves.
Kiprusoff made an excellent glove save on Antti Miettnen late in the period when the right winger backhanded the puck hard, making Kiprusoff slide from the right to left quickly to make the save.
Minnesota's intensity level went up a notch late in the first period, sending three shots on net in the last minute.
Brunette was hurt in the first period and didn't return. The Wild said it was due to a lower body injury.
The Wild tried to keep their pressure on the Flames right off the drop of the puck in the second period. Former Flame Owen Nolan sent a pass over to Minnesota's leading scorer Mikko Koivu, who was streaking in on the left side, but the pass didn't hit his stick. If it had, it looked like it would have been in the net as Kiprusoff was tied up on the other side.
James Sheppard took a boarding call after slamming Cammalleri into the boards. The Flames maintained possession and almost added to their lead. Iginla had Niklas Backstrom beat but his shot bounced off the crossbar.
The Wild tied it up when Dan Fritsche scored his first as a member of the Wild. His wrister snuck through the pads of Kiprusoff. The shorthanded marker came at 3:02.
To add to the Flames troubles, Bourque was upended by Fritsche right before the goal and the red hot Flame wasn't able to put any pressure on his left knee as he tried to get up. He had to be helped off the ice and went immediately to the dressing room.
A Flames giveaway led the next goal as Colton Gillies knocked home his second of the season at 6:56. Aucoin's pass was too soft and was picked up by Peter Olvecky. Fritsche grabbed the rebound and had a wide open net to shot on as Kiprusoff was still on the ice from the first shot.
Bertuzzi was penalized for elbowing at 7:41. The forward lost his stick in the defensive zone and tried knock it up to his teammates. He saw Clutterbuck coming in for a hit and put his arm up instinctively.
At the 10:00 mark, the Flames didn't have a shot on net and the Wild had seven.
The penalty kill, which hasn't been at its peak lately, looked sharp. Moss made an impressive block while on the kill and the Flames were able to keep the Wild contained.
"Our penalty kill has been big for us all year," Aucoin said after the game. "Thank goodness, it's taken the pressure off our power play and our power play has been really bad all year."
The penalty kill seemed to wake the Flames up from their listless start. Calgary's first shot of the second period came at 11:21from Dion Phaneuf. and the Flames started forechecking hard from that point.
Dustin Boyd tied the game up when snapped his 10th goal of the season at 16:10. Cory Sarich took a shot off the faceoff won by Boyd, Eric Nystrom batted at the rebound and Boyd came over and sent it in the net.
"Sarich made a great shot, pucks were bouncing in the slot and it just came to my stick," said Boyd of his tying goal.
At the end of the second period, the Flames announced that Bourque would not be back in the game due to a lower body injury.
Calgary got another shot on the power play early in the third when Pierre-Marc Bouchard tripped up Conroy in the neutral zone. The man advantage came at 3:40.
Minnesota got another great shot at a shortie when Koivu sent a blast toward the Flames net but Giordano fearlessly blocked the shot.
The captain gave the Flames a great scoring opportunity when he stormed into the offensive zone with Cammalleri trailing. He sent the pass over the crafty winger but Cammalleri's shot just went wide.
The rest of the period was played very cautiously by both teams and the game would head to overtime.
Marc-Andre Bergeron sent a hard slap shot from the boards and while Kiprusoff was square to the shot, the blast was hard enough to knock the Finnish netminder to the ice.
The Flames got a great chance in the extra frame when Aucoin managed to get a breakaway. He had Backstrom beat beat glove side but it hit the iron. The big blueliner shook his head in frustration as he headed to the bench.
"We just pressured them," Aucoin said afterwards."Number nine (Koivu) fell down and I'm not that quick so they must have been sleeping. I got a shot off quick and it hit the post."
After the game Sarich was giving props to Aucoin for his breakaway.
"I liked the breakaway speed," he smiled. "It's nice to see that from a defenseman."
Aucoin would be rewarded shortly after when he sent a hard shot on the net and it bounced in off the Wild defenseman to win the game for his team. Bertuzzi and Robyn Regehr assisted on the game winner which came at 3:50.
"I'll call it justice," laughed Aucoin. "I'm quite happy about it, that's for sure."
Iginla credited the Flames resilience after falling behind a goal in the second period.
"It's a big positive for us. We could have folded, we could have said 'It's not our night'. We found a way to turn it around."
Next up for the Flames is the Edmonton Oilers. The team knows this is a huge divisional matchup and realize a lot lies on that game for the Oilers who are still in the playoff race.