With a 3-1 lead late in the third period, the Calgary Flames seemed content to coast off with two points.
The Blue Jackets had other plans.
Columbus rallied from a two-goal deficit with 4:05 to play and got the game-winning goal from Rick Nash in the shootout, completing a stunning Blue Jackets comeback in a 4-3 victory over the Flames 4-3 at Scotiabank Saddledome. It was the team’s first shootout win of the season.
The Blue Jackets out-shot the Flames 15-5 in the first period and got the leadoff goal from Antoine Vermette, who finished the rebound from a Nikita Nikitin blast from the point. The Blue Jackets kept the 1-0 lead until late in the period when a lapse in coverage gave the Flames the tying goal from Lee Stempniak, a low shot that made it through a maze of bodies.
Though they were tied 1-1 after the first period, it was a period that belonged to the Blue Jackets. That changed in the second period. The Flames carried the play for the majority of the middle frame, and owned the puck with a 15-3 advantage in shots on goal. Calgary was unable to beat Sanford with the previous 14 shots, but a semi-breakaway from Rene Bourque resulted in the go-ahead goal with 18.1 seconds remaining. It could have been a devastating marker for the Blue Jackets, but they kept going.
Blake Comeau benefitted from a lucky bounce to make it a 3-1 lead at 5:48 of the third, as his wrist shot hit Vinny Prospal and into the open side. The Blue Jackets got a couple of power-play chances in the third period only to come up empty, but they saved the dramatics for the final five minutes.
Nikitin struck again at 15:55 of the third period, sending a rocket one-timer through a Derek Dorsett screen that Miikka Kiprusoff never saw. It brought the Columbus bench to life, and with Sanford on the bench for the sixth attacker, Nash and Nikitin connected for the biggest tally of the game.
Stick on the ice, Nash made his way into soft coverage in the slot, and Nikitin’s directed slap shot found his stick for a perfect deflection into the top corner. The Blue Jackets came all the way back with 57.2 seconds left in regulation, got through overtime and Sanford stopped all three Calgary shooters in the skills competition.
You could tell the Blue Jackets picked up on the Flames sitting back in the third period. Once the 15-minute mark hit, Columbus amped up the forecheck and got more pucks in behind the Calgary defense to generate pressure. Kiprusoff was there for most of them, but Nikitin’s goal to pull the Blue Jackets to 3-2 was the turning point of the hockey game.
Scott Arniel mixed up his lines in the third period and it paid off. Derek MacKenzie got the puck to Vinny Prospal, who made a nice pass across to a waiting Nikitin. The resulting slapper cleanly beat Kiprusoff and it reversed the momentum for Columbus.
- The Blue Jackets scored the first goal of the game for the 11th time this season. The club is now 6-4-1 in those games, while going 2-6-2 when tied after the first period and 2-5-2 when tied after two periods.
- Columbus is now 22-16-4 all-time against Calgary, including a 7-12-2 mark at Scotiabank Saddledome.
- Vermette scored his third goal of the season in the first period tonight. He has three goals the last nine games after going 21 games without a goal. He has collected 3-8-11 the last 19 games after being held pointless the season’s first six games.
- Nikitin snapped a 40-game goalless skid with his first of the season tonight. He last scored Feb. 6 at Tampa Bay (with St. Louis). He also had two assists on the night to give him assists in seven of 10 games since being acquired by from the Blues in exchange for Kris Russell on Nov. 11. It marked the first three point game of his NHL career.
- Samuel Pahlsson has points in three-straight games after registering an assist tonight. It’s his first three-game point streak since Oct. 17-22, 2009, a span of 177 games. He has 1-2-3 during his streak after going the 10 previous games without a point.
- Prospal recorded the 700th point of his NHL career with an assist on Nikitin’s goal. He has notched 233-467-700 in 1,003 career games. He has points in 15 of 25 games this season.
- Nash has goals in three of the past six games after scoring his eighth of the season tonight. He has points in four of the last seven games, recording 4-2-6 during that stretch. He scored the shootout game-deciding goal. He is now 24 of 62 (38.7 percent) all-time in shootouts and has scored seven game-deciding goals.
vs. Edmonton Oilers
Rexall Place | Edmonton, Alberta
Friday, 9:30 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com