BLUE JACKETS (14-14-7) 6, FLAMES (13-16-7) 4
SCOTIABANK SADDLEDOME | CALGARY, AB
No one really knew what tenor this game would take on tonight. Would the Calgary Flames come out a hungry, determined group in the wake of the Jerome Iginla trade or would there be an emotional letdown after a long week?
Regardless of the storyline or script coming in, the Blue Jackets didn't wait around to see how this game was going to unfold. They got on their horses early and got a big win to close out their four-game road trip, a 6-4 decision tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary -- the first loss in nine home games for the Flames.
It was a balanced effort from Columbus, which got goals from three different lines tonight and opened the scoring on a nifty shorthanded goal from Mark Letestu in the first period. Flames defenseman TJ Brodie circled behind his own net and tried to evade pressure from Derek MacKenzie, but coughed the puck up right on Letestu's stick at the front of the net...and it was an easy tap-in for his eighth goal of the year at 10:20.
A weird bounce in the crease allowed the Flames to tie the game on a Brian McGrattan goal early in the second period, but the Blue Jackets bounced back with a pair of goals from Vinny Prospal and Matt Calvert just 1:28 apart to forge ahead by two -- but as this ping-pong, back-and-forth game would unfold, the Flames had a response shortly thereafter. Mikael Backlund made it a one-goal game at 11:09 of the middle frame but it was Columbus that answered with Derick Brassard scoring off the rush five minutes later to make it 4-2.
Ryan Johansen's spectacular breakaway goal made it a 5-3 Blue Jackets lead late in the second period, one of his finest goals as a professional after stealing the puck from Matt Stajan in the neutral zone. The Flames made it a one-goal game on Curtis Glencross' 14th goal of the season but RJ Umberger sealed a huge win for Columbus with an empty-net goal in the final minute of regulation.
Johansen's goal wasn't just the game-winner but it was also the breaking point of the hockey game. Dennis Wideman ripped home a power play goal to pull Calgary within a goal at 4-3 at 17:48 (ironically on a hooking penalty to Johansen), and on his next shift, "Joey" made amends. He ripped the puck off Stajan's stick and swooped in on Miikka Kiprusoff, making one forehand deke and putting the puck top-shelf for his second goal of year.
-Jack Johnson was a horse for the Blue Jackets on defense tonight, logging 26:36 TOI and racking up a +3 rating. The only thing missing was offensive output, but Johnson was instrumental in helping Columbus clean up its own end in the third period when protecting the lead.
- Kudos to Steve Mason for a clutch performance in goal tonight. Making his first start since Mar. 5 (at home vs. Edmonton), he made 29 saves including some big ones down the stretch. Good for him to get in the net, do his thing and help the Blue Jackets get back on track.
- Vinny Prospal was outstanding tonight: a goal, an assist, +3 rating and making something happen on a regular basis with his red-hot line mates Mark Letestu and Derick Brassard. Aside from the Anisimov line's big-time effort last night in Edmonton, the Brassard line has been the most consistent and productive for the Blue Jackets.
- Tim Erixon played 4:58 and left the game early in the second period with an upper-body injury. There was no update on his status after the game.
- Dalton Prout, what a game. He played 19:46 and was a whopping +4 tonight...not bad for the young defensemen who keeps getting better and better with each passing game.
vs. Anaheim Ducks
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH
Sunday, 6 p.m.