BLUE JACKETS 2 | FLAMES 1
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards was asked post-game when he knew that tonight's game would be different.
"Right from the first shift," he said.
BLUE JACKETS 2 | FLAMES 1
And he turned to one of his go-to units to start things off in Calgary - Ryan Johansen, RJ Umberger and Nick Foligno were reunited earlier this week and they were trusted with big minutes in the absence of several key players. Their heavy, forechecking game was the ideal medicine for a Blue Jackets club that went through "the lowest of lows" on Tuesday night in Edmonton, and it was a major factor in their bounce-back win tonight in Calgary.
It took a wacky, almost-disastrous sequence in overtime to end it, but Nikita Nikitin finished off his best game of the season with the game-winner. Cam Atkinson blocked a shot in his own zone and left the puck for Artem Anisimov, who roared through neutral ice and found himself with a terrific scoring chance in front of Flames goalie Reto Berra. Anisimov was stopped once by Berra, had another attempt blocked, then Atkinson tossed the puck back toward the net where it ricocheted to David Savard.
Savard's shot carromed off a Flames shin pad and right to Nikitin at the side of the net, who had crept in from the point and had a tap-in for two points.
Emotionally, it was a huge lift for the Blue Jackets, who held a players-only meeting after a 7-0 loss the night before and wanted to quickly forget about it. The best way to do that was to start quickly and the Jackets did so, thanks to Nick Foligno's first period goal - a lead they carried into the third period.
Joe Colborne brought the Flames all square early in the third period, but the Blue Jackets played a straight-line game and kept the puck in front of them and behind the Calgary defense. In picking up the win, they moved to 2-1-0 on their five-game road trip and improved to 31-0-0 under Richards when leading after two periods.
In a game that developed into more of a chess match than a shootout, the Blue Jackets needed to respond well after the Flames' tying goal. It's almost like it didn't even cause a ripple, because their next few shifts were strong and they ended regulation with a 40-second shift from - surprise, surprise - the Foligno line.
1. NIKITA NIKITIN (CBJ)
No better time for the big fella to record his first multi-point game of the season. Nikitin earned an assist on the Foligno goal and scored the clutch tally in overtime, but he played a solid game all-around in what Richards called his best of the season.
2. NICK FOLIGNO (CBJ)
Foligno was one of many Blue Jackets who had strong words after Tuesday's game, and he led by example tonight in Calgary. His fifth goal of the year opened the scoring, and it was a dazzler; Umberger made a nice tip pass to Foligno at the blue line, and Foligno whipped a laser beam over Berra's shoulder to get the Jackets off and running.
3. SERGEI BOBROVSKY (CBJ)
When the Flames made their push early in the third period, Bobrovsky did his finest work and this was a terrific rebound effort from him, as well. He finished the game with 23 saves including a highlight-reel diving stop without his stick in the second period.
AT VANCOUVER CANUCKS
FRIDAY, 10 P.M.