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Aftermath: Flames Doused

by Brian McCormack / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets keep finding a way, coming from behind once again to defeat the Calgary Flames 3-2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

It was the Jackets’ sixth consecutive road win and sixth win in seven games overall. The Jackets also continued their recent trend of resilience, coming from behind to win for the sixth consecutive time and prevailing in overtime or the shootout for the fourth time in that stretch.

The Jackets welcomed two players back to the lineup, as Boone Jenner and Jeremy Morin both returned from lengthy injuries. Yet it was another relative newcomer to the Blue Jackets lineup that fueled Columbus over a Calgary team fighting for a playoff berth, a player with deep Calgary ties.

Rene Bourque
was a three-time 20-goal scorer in four seasons as a Calgary Flame. That offense disappeared when Bourque was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 2012, and when the Jackets acquired Bourque from the Anaheim Ducks on trade deadline day, the 33-year old was playing in the AHL and was looking at possibly his last opportunity to re-establish his NHL scoring touch. All appears to be going to plan.

Bourque scored two goals in his old Western Conference stomping ground, including the overtime winner, giving him four goals in eight games as a Blue Jacket. Bourque has been a strong net front presence for Columbus and it’s leading to offensive opportunities. Bourque got Columbus on the board by muscling his way around Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland and winning the race to the back post to bang home a Ryan Johansen feed. In overtime, it was Bourque (again) winning a battle to bury a Kevin Connauton rebound. Bourque had two multi-goal games in last year’s playoffs for the Canadiens, but he hadn’t recorded one in the regular season since Feb. 2, 2013.

When a team isn’t generating a ton of offensive chances, it had better take advantage of mistakes. The Jackets only generated 14 shots through the first two periods after giving up 20 first period shots in Vancouver on Thursday and being outshot 26-11 through 40 minutes in Edmonton on Wednesday. But as they had done in Vancouver, the Jackets brought their skating legs for the third period and tied the game thanks to some diligence.

Just 4:21 into the third period, Flames defenseman Kris Russell circled back in his zone with Artem Anisimov the only forechecker bringing pressure. Russell made a casual pass in his own zone, turning to the corner as he looked to bank it off the wall to his defense partner. Rather than lazily trail off with Russell to the boards, Anisimov remained a hawk on the puck and when Russell took the wrong angle and the puck bounced off the back of the net, Anisimov was the first one there and had a clear path to the front. Anisimov walked out, spun to his backhand, and put the puck over Karri Ramo to tie the game.

It took 21 tries, but the Blue Jackets finally swept a road trip through western Canada. It’s been a swing where the Jackets have experienced very little success in recent seasons, failing to win in Edmonton or Vancouver since the 2009-10 season. They erased those woes on the trip and then continued their success at the Saddledome, where they’ve now won four straight visits.

The Jackets are now 20-15-2 on the road, 11th best in the NHL. They’ll look to fix their troubles at home on Tuesday against the Western Conference-leading Anaheim Ducks.

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