CALGARY – The breakout season for Calgary Flames winger Rene Bourque continued on Saturday night.
Bourque’s first career NHL hat trick led the Flames to a 6-3 come-from-behind victory over the Ottawa Senators. After scoring twice in 58 seconds in the second period to single-handedly erase Ottawa’s 2-0 lead, Bourque capped his evening at 14:25 of the third period. With Calgary hanging on to a 4-3 lead, Bourque got himself open in the slot and one-timed Daymond Langkow’s centring pass inside the far post.
As the 27-year-old excitedly celebrated his 14th goal of the season with an emphatic fist pump, the Pengrowth Saddledome sell-out crowd of 19,289 erupted into applause, showering the ice with hats.
“The puck was going in for me tonight,” said Bourque, who only scored 10 goals in 62 games last season with Chicago. “It’s a good feeling. I’ll take what I can get and hopefully they keep going in for me.”
Adrian Aucoin, Andre Roy, and Todd Bertuzzi also scored for Calgary (20-11-4). The Flames have earned points in seven straight games (4-0-3) and open up a three-point lead over Vancouver atop the Northwest Division.
Chris Phillips, Jason Spezza, and Alexandre Picard scored for Ottawa (12-16-5). The Senators have lost the first two games of a stretch that sees them play eight straight on the road. Ottawa is winless in its last 11 games away from home (0-9-2).
“We’re obviously not happy where we are right now but I thought we played a pretty decent hockey game aside from a couple of breakdowns. But everything they shot went in there once they got the lead,” said Spezza.
Acquired from the Blackhawks last summer in exchange for future considerations, Bourque has been one of the Flames’ most consistent forwards all season. In goals, he ranks second on the team behind only Jarome Iginla (16).
“It was a bit of a shock, coming to a team like Calgary, in the playoffs the last couple years,” said Bourque, who only scored 10 goals in 62 games last year. “It was a fresh start, I’m healthy finally, and I have confidence right now. Things are going my way.”
Bourque’s career high of 16 goals came three years ago in his rookie season with the Blackhawks.
“He’s a goal scorer,” said Aucoin. “That release, his strength, he doesn’t get knocked off the puck too easily. I played with him in Chicago and I’ve always known how good he can shoot the puck. He’s a big guy and he skates really well.”
Trailing 3-2 in the third period, Ottawa would eventually tie the game on Picard’s goal at 8:16.
However, Aucoin scored the winner 43 seconds later on a delayed penalty.
With Steve Kelly drawing a hooking penalty in the Calgary zone, the Flames maintained control of the puck and moved down into Ottawa’s end. With Kiprusoff on the bench for a sixth skater, Mike Cammalleri sent a cross-ice pass to Aucoin who one-timed a 30-foot slapshot into the top corner.
“I jumped up in the play knowing that if they touch it, it doesn’t matter. As a D-man, you can cheat as much as you want and it’s a luxury we don’t have very often,” Aucoin said. “They gave Cammalleri too much time and he’s a good player, someone was going to be open and it just happened to be me”.
With Calgary trailing by two goals in the second period and looking for a spark in its first game back from the Christmas break, Bourque ignited a barrage of three Calgary goals in a span of 2:07.
Bourque’s first came on a backhanded wraparound came just 93 seconds after Spezza’s goal at 8:32 had given the Senators a 2-0 lead. Bourque then tied the game when he pounced on a Spezza turnover and sent a wrist shot into the top corner.
Rookie defenceman Adam Pardy then set up Roy at the side of the net for his first goal since he scored Calgary’s first goal of the season back on Oct. 11.
“First 30 minutes we played great, then we have a five-minute lapse and we’re down 3-2,” Spezza said. “Every time we make mistakes, they seem to be in the back of our net. When you’re losing hockey games, it’s tough to get out of it.”
Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson echoed Spezza’s comments.
“It’s frustrating,” said Alfredsson. “But that’s the way it’s been going for us. We can’t seem to find a way to make it easy on ourselves. We make a couple of mistakes and it turns up in our net”.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Ottawa opened the scoring 1:12 into the second when Phillips scored on a slapshot. It was Phillip’s second goal in as many games after going 57 games without a goal.
Notes: Rookie Ottawa C Cody Bass did not return after appearing to have injured his shoulder during a first period fight with Calgary’s Eric Nystrom… With Ottawa D Anton Volchenkov (upper body) sidelined, D Brian Lee was recalled from Binghamton (AHL) and inserted into the lineup, partnering with Phillips. It is Lee’s fourth stint with the NHL club this season… Kiprusoff improves his career mark against Ottawa to 4-0-0. Kiprusoff shut out the Senators 1-0 the last time the two teams met in Ottawa on Oct. 12, 2006.