BLUE JACKETS 3 | FLAMES 2
The Calgary Flames were determined to make this a far more interesting outcome than it appeared after 40 minutes tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Down 3-0 through two periods and failing to get anything going offensively, the Flames got some life early in the third period with a power play goal from Mason Raymond at the 2:21 mark. With 8:17 to play, the tension got a little thicker when rookie Josh Jooris scored his first NHL goal on a clear-cut breakaway, beating Sergei Bobrovsky under the crossbar to make it a 3-2 game with plenty of road ahead.
BLUE JACKETS 3 | FLAMES 2
The Blue Jackets, who had a good grip on the game in the first two periods, bent a little but didn’t break and held on for a 3-2 win on Hockey Fights Cancer Night. They’re now 3-1-0 on the season as they head to Ottawa to face the Senators on Saturday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
“Good thing we took care of business early on,” Ryan Johansen said. “I thought for the first 40 minutes, I thought we were really good. But you have to give that team credit — they made a big push and were doing a lot of good things in the last 10 minutes.
“Bob made some big saves, the guys blocked some big shots and we got two points, so I’ll take it.”
So, about that start.
It was talked about over the past couple of days after the Blue Jackets were stunned at the start of Tuesday’s loss to Dallas, when the Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the first period was halfway over. Columbus wanted - and needed - a better start tonight and the message was received, as the Blue Jackets tallied twice in the first 5:21 and got the crowd involved right away.
Matt Calvert, playing left wing on a line with Mark Letestu (center) and Jack Skille (right wing), saved the puck up high in the zone and fed Letestu down low, who hit Skille with a perfect pass on the door step for a 1-0 lead at 2:59.
Less than three minutes later, Nick Foligno laid a great feed off to Johansen in the right circle with the Blue Jackets on a power play, and Johansen snapped his third goal of the season past Karri Ramo at 5:21, effectively reversing the outcome of Tuesday’s first period with only four shots on goal.
Calvert tallied his first of the season at 8:30 of the second period, and it was a very Calvert-like goal. He and Letestu battled at the net front for a loose puck, and though Letestu was denied by Ramo’s pad, Calvert nudged the puck over the line to make it 3-0 for the Blue Jackets.
Sergei Bobrovsky recorded his third win of the season, and he had to be very good in the third period when the Flames emptied the tanks. He finished with 29 saves on 31 shots, and is slated for a night off on Saturday when Curtis McElhinney gets the start in Ottawa.
“What I liked to see out of the group is that the guys battled (in a chaotic final minute),” Todd Richards said. “Sometimes, it’s going to get scrambly like that and guys were diving head-first…you’d like it to be more controlled, but you can see that the guys care. They were doing everything in their power to keep that puck out of the net.”
Johansen’s goal may not have been a true “turning point” but it was a crucial juncture in the game, padding the Blue Jackets’ early lead and getting Calgary back on its heels. Those two quick goals set the pace for Columbus and their first two periods were terrific in terms of puck possession (56.0 CF% at 5-on-5 through 40 minutes).
1 - Calvert (CBJ): a goal, an assist and 15:27 of ice time in what may have been his best performance in the first four games.
2 - Letestu (CBJ): anchored the Jackets’ best line tonight, chipped in two assists and was 15-4 (79 percent) in the face-off circle.
3 - Skille (CBJ): opened the scoring, fired three shots on goal and used his speed to complement a new-look third line for the Blue Jackets.
at Ottawa Senators
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
Canadian Tire Centre