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Aftermath No. 22: Calgary

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

When they needed it most, the Blue Jackets' bread and butter was their bread and butter.

If they ever needed to put a game in the past, it was Tuesday's 7-0 loss to the Oilers and perhaps the only positive about it was that they had another chance 24 hours later across the province of Alberta.

And as coach Todd Richards said post-game, one of the greatest things about sports is that you always get a chance to redeem yourself. While he stopped short of saying it was one of their best games of the season, Richards was happy with both his team's response and its collective effort a night after their worst.

A multi-point game for Nikita Nikitin, a solid night all around by the Jackets' six defensemen, and a relentless forechecking game that has served them well so often in the past: that was the formula for a bounce-back victory Wednesday night in Calgary.

And not to be overlooked: the Blue Jackets kept this game in their hands by not taking a single penalty, not allowing the Flames any opportunities on the power play and ensuring the game would be played 5-on-5.

David Savard said the Jackets really felt like they let Sergei Bobrovsky down in Edmonton, and to their credit, they were much better in front of him in Calgary.

While many thought Richards would make a switch between the pipes, he said that in challenging the entire group after Tuesday's game, he wanted to give everyone who played that night a chance to get back at it.

They rewarded him with a 2-1 win, their second in three games on this five-game trip. With the season about 1/4 of the way finished, the Blue Jackets will wake up in Vancouver two points out of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division having not played their best hockey. It's far from over.

Here are some random thoughts, notes and observations...

- If the Blue Jackets struggled with one thing tonight, it was in the face-off circle (where they've been top-10 in the NHL all season). Columbus won just 48 percent of the draws in the game, but Johansen led the way by going 9-for-16 (58 percent) to continue his strong play on the dot.

- Ryan Murray and James Wisniewski were thoroughbreds on the back end for Columbus. Each played over 23 minutes - Murray at 24:08 - and saw the bulk of their shifts against the Flames' top line, which included a red-hot Mike Cammalleri. They played the game at even strength and kept Calgary's big guns off the scoresheet. 

- Nothing flashy for Bobrovsky...except for one. After Kris Russell rang a slap shot off the post, the Flames crashed the net and Cammalleri thought he had an open net. Bobrovsky dove across, lost his stick in the process, but got his glove and blocker in front of the puck to rob the Flames' sniper. 

- How about that Letestu-MacKenzie-Comeau line? That unit has become a Swiss Army knife for Richards and he's not afraid to send them over the boards in any situation. They've seen power play time, a ton of shorthanded time, and a regular shift 5-on-5 since being assembled a few games back. The line gave the Flames fits when their cycle game got started, and they also seem really comfortable playing together. 

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