Sam Bennett has been red-hot of late (pardon the pun) for the Calgary Flames, and that run continued tonight.
In a game that was, by all accounts, rather mundane for most of regulation time, but with the score deadlocked at 2-2 after 40 minutes, it was up for grabs in the third period – and the visitors took hold of it early on with the 19-year-old Bennett leading the way (two goals).
Johnny Gaudreau broke the tie with a wicked shot under the crossbar on Joonas Korpisalo, who came on in relief of an injured Sergei Bobrovsky, 1:28 into the third period. That was all the Flames needed to pick up a road victory at Nationwide Arena on Thursday night, but there’s more concern for the Blue Jackets with their starting goaltender.
Bobrovsky, playing his second game back from a groin injury that sidelined him for 17 games, left the game in the second period and did not return.
The game did not start poorly for Columbus, who matched the pace of the Flames quite well and had the better of the chances in the opening 20. Calgary opened the scoring with 7.1 seconds left in the period when Michael Frolik buried a long rebound off a shot from defenseman Dougie Hamilton on the right wing.
"It was one of those games...there were chances going both ways," said Brandon Dubinsky. "Sometimes, there wasn't a lot going both ways. They were doing a great job breaking out the puck and getting behind us, making it tough for us to sustain a lot of pressure."
UPDATE: The latest on Sergei Bobrovsky's injury
After a period in which they played pretty well, the last thing the Blue Jackets needed was to give up the late goal.
They got it back in the second period, though, thanks to Scott Hartnell in his return to the lineup. After Seth Jones’ rocket one-timer hit the end boards, Hartnell was in perfect position at the side of the net to put back the rebound and score his 16th goal of the season, tying Brandon Saad for the team lead.
Bennett regained the lead for Calgary only 38 seconds later, taking a drop pass inside the offensive blue line and ripping a shot by Bobrovsky’s glove. Bobrovsky exited the game during the next media timeout.
Dubinsky, who played 19:34, scored his 10th goal of the season to tie the game again late in the second period.
Dubinsky won the face-off against Calgary’s Sean Monahan, got the puck to Ryan Murray the center point, and then scored on the rebound after Karri Ramo offered a healthy rebound in the slot.
And as stated before, this game was anyone’s for the taking with 20 minutes to go, but the Blue Jackets came up short.
Gaudreau’s go-ahead goal (the game winner) was boosted by an insurance goal by Bennett with 5:32 to play, jamming in a loose puck at the side of the net.
From here, the Blue Jackets are on to Boston before a home-and-home with Montreal next week wraps up the pre-All-Star portion of their schedule.
"We made some mistakes and didn't develop enough offense," coach John Tortorella said. "There's no sense in me picking it apart...we just need to take each day and try to get better. All's we can do is try to stay positive.
"Neither team had a lot (going offensively). I don't think we developed enough and I don't think they had a lot of offense, either. They end up scoring, we don't, and they win the game."