A few games like Saturday night and frequent Flames call-up Jamie Lundmark soon could have a permanent home in Calgary.
Lundmark pulled his team even midway through the second period and then scored the shootout winner in a 3-2 decision over Vancouver that moved the visiting Flames into sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division.
After the Canucks' Mason Raymond went forehand-backhand to beat goalie Miikka Kiprusoff in Round 3 of the shootout, Lundmark followed suit against Roberto Luongo, lifting the puck under the crossbar in just his second game since being recalled from Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League on Friday.
"It's good to contribute anytime I'm up," said Lundmark. "Obviously I'm here to do a job and help the team win and that's what I try to do every night, whether it's scoring shootout goals or doing whatever."
The Edmonton native was drafted ninth overall by the New York Rangers in 1999. At times, however, he has struggled to transfer his prolific scoring abilities at the junior level to the NHL.
"He had an opportunity earlier in the year and played very well and he's someone that brings skill — and it's always nice to have that," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter of Lundmark.
Rene Bourque also scored for the 26-14-5 Flames, who lead the Canucks (27-16-2) by one point. Vancouver saw its four-game win streak end.
"It was huge," said Lundmark of the win. "From [Friday] night coming off a loss, I think everybody stepped up tonight and played well."
Lundmark, who turns 29 on Jan. 16, also atoned for a missed opportunity in Friday's 3-2 loss to Columbus when he banked the puck off the post in an attempt to push in a long rebound at an open net.
Criticized by coach
After being criticized by Sutter for a poor performance in a loss to Columbus on Friday, the Flames outshot the Canucks 40-21. But the game was tied 1-1 after the first period and 2-2 after the second.
Mikael Samuelsson and Daniel Sedin scored for the Canucks. Alex Burrows, denied in his unlikely quest to become the first NHLer to record three straight hat tricks, recorded an assist.
"Louie was great, that's for sure," said Burrows of Luongo. "I think, for the most part, they outworked us in a lot of areas."
Kiprusoff only faced 21 shots but made some timely saves. He won for only the second time in seven games at General Motors Place. And, according to Sutter, he was at a disadvantage because of dirty tricks from the crowd.
Sutter said a fan was directing a laser pointer at the Finnish veteran in an effort to distract him.
"It was going on all night," said Sutter. "It was brought to the attention of the refs and security, and it's hard to believe that can go on for 60 minutes in a hockey game and it's not located and not found. Henrik Sedin extended his points streak to nine games as he assisted on his brother Daniel's goal.
Shut out on power play
The Flames outshot the Canucks 40-21 but were blanked on three power plays, while the Canucks went 0-for-2.
Calgary, criticized by coach Brent Sutter after a home-ice loss to Columbus on Friday, dominated the early going and throughout the game peppered Luongo, who finished with 38 saves.
Bourque opened the scoring 9:36 into the game as he skated down left wing, cut towards the net and roofed a shot over Luongo's shoulder from the short side.
The Canucks managed only two shots in the first 12 minutes, but Samuelsson created a 1-1 tie at 14:09. Samuelsson, upset with being left off Sweden's Olympic team, extended his points streak to six games. It was Samuelsson's third goal in three games and fifth in six outings since Dec. 29 — the same day the Swedish Olympic team was named.
Prior to the snub, he had gone 14 games without a goal and was criticized for his lack of offence.
The Canucks took a 2-1 lead at 4:41 of the second as Daniel Sedin converted a highlight-reel play with his twin brother Henrik, the NHL's scoring leader. Henrik Sedin raced in on a breakaway, cut in front of the net as Kiprusoff followed him, and then unexpectedly dished backhand to his brother, who was left with a wide open net.
With the Canucks clinging to a 2-1 lead, Lundmark whacked a bouncing puck off the leg of Vancouver defenceman Willie Mitchell and through Luongo's legs.
The Canucks' defence featured a new look as Sami Salo and Aaron Rome sat out after suffering cut eyes Thursday against Phoenix.
Rookie rearguard Evan Oberg, 21, made his NHL debut after being called up Friday from Manitoba of the AHL. Meanwhile, Brad Lukowich, summoned from the Winnipeg-based farm club on Jan. 2, played his first game as a Canuck.