Thursday, January 31, 2008

Headgear optional on a Calgary Wednesday night

On a cold Alberta evening, a fair number of the assembled at the Saddledome were heading home without their hats that after Owen Nolan picked up his first hat trick since 1999 and the eleventh three goal night of his career.

Nolan put together the three goal game leading his Calgary Flames to a 5-4 over his former club the San Jose Sharks.

Mired in the first half of the season in a continuation of the scoring slump he suffered in Phoenix last year, Nolan has quickly caught fire in the last few weeks. He’s scored five of his twelve goals on the year in the last five games and Wednesday night showed some of the flash and physical play that made him an intimidating factor back in his Shark days.

From getting into a few scraps on the night, to playing hard into the corners and along the boards it was as close to a complete performance that Nolan has given in recent times, and with his scoring touch seemingly returned for at least one night, Nolan accounted for the bulk of the Flames scoring and a fair amount of their grit and dedication as they rattled off their fourth consecutive win.

While many had questioned the wisdom of the flames picking him up, he’s provided a leadership role to compliment the efforts of captain Jarome Iginla and blue liner Dion Phaneuf. In fact, his recent touch around the net has helped to deflect some of the concern over the sudden cold streak that Iginla has suffered.

While Nolan's output is nowhere near what it was in his all star days, for a team that is seeking to make some noise in this years playoff race the flashes of the old Nolan will be a welcome sighting.
His enthusiasm on Wednesday proved to be an infectious thing, even brining a smile to the notoriously somber face of head coach Mike Keenan. Though he no doubt quickly returned to form as the Flames allowed the Sharks back into the game, fortunately not squandering Nolan’s night as they held on for the 5-4 final.

Calgary Herald--Shark Buster

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