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Jokinen looking for wins, not goals

by Todd Kimberley
CALGARY -- Olli Jokinen's lamp-lighting reputation is more parched these days than the Arizona desert he inhabited not too long ago.

But there's been nothing to quench his thirst like the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which had been a decade-long mirage for the Calgary Flames center until last week.

As the Flames took the morning skate Wednesday at the Pengrowth Saddledome, preparing for Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks (10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS), Jokinen hadn't scored a goal in 16 games.

What, Olli worry?

"I didn't score any goals last game. I didn't score any goals (Tuesday) because I didn't skate," the 30-year-old Finn told "The next game is a new chance.

"I couldn't care less about that," Jokinen said of the slump. "It's about winning, and doing the little things right. If I score a goal, it's OK. If not, it's doing something else to help the team."

Puck drop for Wednesday's Game 4 is slated for 10 p.m. ET (VERSUS, TSN), with the 'Hawks leading the best-of-7 series two games to one.

Jokinen was the big name on the move March 4, as Calgary GM Darryl Sutter nabbed the four-time 30-goal scorer from the Phoenix Coyotes at the NHL's trade deadline for Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a first-round draft choice.

Jokinen scored twice in his Flames debut the next night in Philadelphia. Two more goals came at Detroit on March 12. A five-point outburst March 14 in Toronto, included a hat-trick.

And strangely, the former No. 3 draft pick has been silent ever since.

Monday night, though, Jokinen played his best game as a Flame in recent memory. Aggressive and rambunctious, he dished out five hits, blocked a shot by Dave Bolland, and helped set up Rene Bourque's pivotal tiebreaker late in the second period, rushing in on the forecheck and knocking the puck away from Cam Barker behind the Chicago net.

"He was great," praised Calgary right winger David Moss, who played on a line with Jokinen for much of Game 3. "Sometimes he doesn't get a lot of credit, but he does a lot of the little things right. He was a horse (in Calgary's 4-2 victory). He's a good solid player."

In the past week, Jokinen has happily shaken a millstone from his neck that had kept growing heavier each spring. No active NHL player had waited longer -- 799 games, to be exact -- to get that first taste of playoff action.

"I've been waiting for 10 years," he said. "If you're not in the postseason, it's going to be the longest summer of your life.

"My career, I've been lucky playing Olympics, World Championships, World Cup finals, stuff like that, but it's different because you're talking about one-game (finals). Right now, we've played Game 3 of this series, and Game 4 is going to be a step higher again."

It won't take long, predicts Calgary coach Mike Keenan, before Jokinen is one of those go-to guys in the spring.

"He's got a lot of attributes that are conducive to playoff hockey," Keenan said. "He's a very good player. He's a bright guy. His learning curve will be accelerated because of his skill set and his mental approach to the game.

"It won't take him long to understand what playoff hockey means."

Bourque a game-time decision -- Calgary forward Rene Bourque will be a game-time decision for Wednesday's game, Keenan said.

Bourque, who'd missed nearly two months with a high-ankle sprain before returning in time for playoffs, had left the ice for a stretch Monday night after slamming Brent Seabrook with a check, and both players falling in a heap.

"I just tweaked my ankle a bit when I hit him," said Bourque on Wednesday morning. "Fell into the boards weird. I watched the replay, and my leg kind of got caught between the boards and his body. It's all good, though. I feel pretty good, yeah."

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