This one seemed a bit of a struggle right from the outset.
Two nights after a dominant effort against Colorado that resulted in an overtime loss, the Blue Jackets wanted to get back on the right side of things. At the start, it appeared as though they were on their way, but it stalled in the middle of the game and one goal was all Calgary needed tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Yes, their goaltender was excellent in the game, but the Blue Jackets didn't do enough to create high-danger chances in the Flames zone. Columbus had 25 shots on goal through two periods and controlled the puck possession game, but lacked finish and frustration mounted as the game got older.
Still, the Blue Jackets enter their "Thanksgiving break" at 10-5-3 and will play a back-to-back set this weekend against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. They've played more good games than bad, though tonight's game probably won't be classified as a step forward.
"We were on the outside all night long," head coach John Tortorella said. "(Johnson) saw every shot. I thought our first period was good, but then it went downhill."
Here's what we learned:
Too generous with the puck: At even strength, the Flames did not generate much offense. They had four shots in the first period and six in the second, and spent a lot of time defending. Both goals against Sergei Bobrovsky were the result of turnovers by the Blue Jackets, who had pucks on their stick and, in the blink of an eye, it ended up in their net. To put into perspective: Columbus had nearly 57 percent of even strength shot attempts in the game, and were solidly in control of play (+4 to +8 SAT) at the time of both Flames goals. The first was an exit pass picked off in the neutral zone, and Kris Versteeg's whirling backhand pass across the crease was on-point for Troy Brouwer to tap in. In the third period, Michael Ferland put the game on ice after picking off a pass and snapping a wrist shot off the post and in with 6:25 gone by in the third period.
Video: Brandon Saad looks ahead to Friday's game in Tampa
Power play sputters: Particularly early in the game, the Flames gave the Blue Jackets ample opportunities to take hold of it. Columbus came up empty on four power play chances, including a four-minute double minor in the second period, but came up empty. They were credited with seven shots on goal over those power plays, but only a few chances could be considered high-danger. Their final power play of the game became a 6-on-4 with 1:33 to play trailing by two, but Calgary did well to collapse in front of Johnson and take a lot of the scoring ice away.
"Sloppy. It hurt us momentum-wise," Tortorella said. "We got nothing accomplished. There were some plays to be made, but we were sloppy. We were on the outside.
"We know we're a good team and we know we've put some good minutes in the first quarter of the season here. We've just got to get back to our game."
Johnson the difference: You may not have known until just now, but Chad Johnson has never lost to the Blue Jackets in his NHL career. The veteran backup has played well of late and stopped all 34 shots tonight for a deserved shutout; he's now 5-0-0 lifetime against Columbus, and prior to tonight, the Blue Jackets last saw him as a member of the Buffalo Sabres. He was strong early, making a handful of point-blank saves as the Blue Jackets swarmed the net and tried to create secondary opportunities.