CALGARY – Todd Bertuzzi has proven his worth in clutch situations for the Calgary Flames in this NHL season.
Bertuzzi tallied his second game-deciding goal in a shootout this season as the Flames edged the Oilers 3-2 in Edmonton on Saturday night.
The six-foot-three, 231-pound winger has also set up one overtime goal while scoring another and has three game-winning goals during regulation time.
“I like being out there in the clutch,” said Bertuzzi, who signed with the Flames in the off-season.
“Obviously, for an athlete, it’s fun to have all that pressure put on you.”
Calgary captain Jarome Iginla was one of Bertuzzi’s biggest proponents heading into the season and isn’t surprised that the veteran forward has paid dividends for the Flames (35-18-6).
“He likes to have that pressure, obviously, and be a go-to guy,” Iginla said. “The shootout, he loves it.
“He’s got so many different moves.”
The Flames have won three overtime games this season and two more in the shootout and Bertuzzi has been a factor in four of those victories.
“Those are big points,” Iginla pointed out. “You win one of those, everyone’s feeling great.
“It’s a win. It’s two points. When you lose one of those, then you’re not feeling so good. It’s such a big difference of emotion and importance of points.”
Against Edmonton, Bertuzzi skated down the left side and drew goalie Dwayne Roloson over with him before poking a backhand shot into the far corner.
“In practice, I’ve tried it a handful of times and it seemed like a pretty good move as long as I can get the goaltender leaning the right way and have the empty net on the other side to shovel it in,” said Bertuzzi.
He smashed his stick to the ice after he backhanded a shot off the post in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks at home last Tuesday.
On the play, Bertuzzi made a spin-o-rama move to deke Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo before clanking the shot off the iron.
“That was frustrating because I had Luongo completely out and there’s no way he could have stopped it,” he said. “For it to hit a post like that and bounce out was not rewarding for the move that I put on him.”
Instead of letting someone else shoot against Edmonton, Calgary coach Mike Keenan went right back to Bertuzzi, who tried a different move and emerged as the hero.
“We’re pretty fortunate that Mike kind of lets us do the shootout the way we want to,” said Bertuzzi, who has 14 goals and 28 assists in 54 games.
“I’ve been in situations where you try something like that it’s frowned upon, but here you do what you’re best capable of doing.
“He (Keenan) kind of gives you a green light to do it.”
During the game against Edmonton, Keenan put Jamie Lundmark and Kyle Greentree on a line with Bertuzzi and they practised together again as a unit on Monday.
“They had a lot of energy and hopefully those players come back and continue to play with energy,” said Keenan of Lundmark and Greentree, who had been called up from the Quad City Flames of the AHL for the game.
“You always play with adrenaline when you get the call. Then the challenge for players after that is to sustain the level of energy and the consistency and to be able to continue to improve their play.”
At the time of their call-ups, Lundmark led Quad City with 52 points, while Greentree paced the squad with 28 goals. Now, both hope to make the most of their time playing on a line with Bertuzzi.
“He slows the game down and just makes plays and sees the ice,” Lundmark said. “He can hold a couple guys on his back and pull the puck out of the corner.
“It definitely makes it easier out there. He’s got a lot of different things in his repertoire especially on the shootouts. He’s scored some nice goals.”
Greentree, who has yet to put up a point in his three NHL games, has tried to soak in as much knowledge as he can from his veteran linemate.
“He’s just telling me some pointers here and there,” said Greentree, noting that Bertuzzi has advised him to use his six-foot-three, 212-pound frame to his advantage.
“If I have any questions I definitely come to him. I’m not shy to go ask him what I’m doing out there.”
Bertuzzi has high hopes that the trio can contribute to Calgary’s offensive attack starting with a home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
“I thought they’ve played really well,” he said. “Greener got in there (against Edmonton) and he was really hard on the forecheck.
“He’s got a really good set of hands. I think he’ll be a pretty good guy to have in the slot for me to pass to. Jamie’s got very slick hands, good moves and he’s very good up the middle.”
Notes: Calgary defenceman Mark Giordano will be out of the lineup for an extended period of time after suffering a shoulder injury during a collision with Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck last Thursday. “He’s going to undergo surgery today and he’ll be out for a long period of time,” said Keenan, while noting that injuries to Langkow (hand) and Andrew Roy (head) will only keep them out on a day-to-day basis.