It had been 21 games between goals for Owen Nolan. Almost a month and half of hockey. That's an eternity for a scorer. But the veteran Calgary Flames winger broke out of his slump at the perfect time, scoring the game-winning goal as the Flames downed Edmonton 3-2 at Rexall Place on Tuesday.
|Owen Nolan scores game winner against Edmonton Tuesday at Rexall Place. |
Photo courtesy edmontonoilers.com
Just seconds before he scored, he had just missed on a wrap-around attempt. The puck skirted to the point where Dion Phaneuf teed up the puck for a slapper. It never made it to the net as Matthew Lombardi's attempted tip kept the puck alive in front where Nolan, circling and finding open space, picked up the puck and put it in the back of the Oiler net.
"I knew there was going to be a big shot from the point," said Nolan of his goal at 16:16 of the third period. "I was just looking for space."
He found it and, with the goal, eliminated the surprising Oilers from the playoff race while breathing new life into the Flames chances of winning the Northwest Division.
"It (the puck) came right to me," said Nolan on The Fan 960 radio following the game. "I settled it down a little. I wanted to make sure it went in the back of the net. I had lots of time."
Nolan had a couple of other great scoring chances and had the puck squirt of his stick after deking Oiler goalie Dwayne Roloson. Earlier in the game he had assisted on the Flames first goal of the night, a first period power play tally courtesy of Adrian Aucoin.
Your heart gets pounding when it is that tight - Owen Nolan
He was also a big factor in a critical Calgary penalty kill in the third period with the Oilers throwing all they had at the Flames in an attempt to keep their drive to the playoffs alive.
"Everyone threw it on the line there," said Nolan. "We knew we had to get it done."
The Flames killed all three of the Oilers power plays.
The game featured plenty of ebbs and flows with each team taking turns pressuring the other through the first two periods. But the Oilers dominated the shot clock 17-4 in the third period to outshoot the Flames 30-17 on the night.
"Your heart sure gets pounding when it is that tight," said Nolan, signed as a free agent by the Flames in the off-season.
"You have to give Edmonton some credit. They've done a great job getting back in this the last month. But we showed we were hungry," said Nolan.
With the win the Flames snap a two-game losing streak and now have 92 points. They have two games remaining, Thursday in Minnesota and Saturday in Vancouver. The Wild are three points ahead of the Flames atop the Northwest Division and are holding onto the third seed position in the Western Conference.
While Nolan was being interviewed, some of his teammates were huddling around a televison in the dressing room watching the Colorado-Vancouver game. "That's so they can explain the standings to me," chuckled Nolan. "All I am worried about is winning our games, though."
Nolan said the Flames need to continue to win battles along the boards, chip pucks deep into the opposition zone and make sure they clear the zone and get the puck outside their blueline if they want to continue winning.
"It's all those little things. When we don't do it, we cause turnovers," said Nolan.