Five Takeaways from Columbus at Calgary Monday December 13 at the Scotiabank Saddledome...
Prior to this game the Calgary Flames had plenty to say about their predicament. Out of the playoffs. Needing to get something rolling. Needing to start winning to make nagging rumours about imminent changes to disappear.
"There is nothing we can do about the past, except learn. We have a good team and we believe we can be in the playoffs. We realize every game is like a playoff game. Every point is crucial," said forward Olli Jokinen.
With that said the Flames began a stint of six games in 11 days to head into the holiday season with a 3-2 overtime win over the Blue Jackets.
"It was a really important win for us. Now we have to move forward," said captain Jarome Iginla.
The start. So many times this season the Flames have not come out of the gate with the right zeal. Not this time. Head coach Brent Sutter started the fourth line of Tom Kostopoulos, Tim Jackman and David Moss and they were able to set a tone by getting pucks deep and getting in on the forecheck.
"We've got to make sure we start right at the beginning and get something going at home and get the fans into it and have momentum throughout," said assistant coach Ryan McGill prior to the game.
For the better part of two periods, that is exactly what happened. The Flames scored two goals before the five-minute mark -- a Jarome Iginla laser wrist shot and a nifty Brendan Morrison shot through a screen. With two goals on four shots that was enough to chase starter Steve Mason from the net in favour of Mathieu Garon.
While Garon was excellent the rest of the way, the Flames seemed to sag at times and not get pucks deep. After outshooting the Blue jackets 11-6 in the first period, the Flames were outshot 18-11 over the final two periods.
Still, no five-on-five goals allowed. That's a positive. On the negative, the Flames gave up a shorthanded tally and a power play goal.
Miikka Kiprusoff. What can be said about this guy? His numbers might not look staggering right now but he continues to make big saves at the right time. The win over Columbus was No. 250 for him. Well earned we have to say.
Kiprusoff is now 250-167-53 for his career. He has been solid since arriving in Calgary via trade in 2003. He was solid again Monday, particularly in the third period when the Blue Jackets were pressing for the equalizer.
On the night Kiprusoff stopped 22 of 24 shots he faced. The always dangerous Rick Nash scored on one of his five shots, but it was on the power play and few, if any, goalies would stop the chance he had from the face-off circle.
Kiprusoff, by the way, is now 27 wins away from passing Mike Vernon as the all-time wins leader with the Flames. Vernon has 262 as a Flame.
Jarome Iginla. The Flames captain definitely had urgency in his game. He was skating hard, using his skating to put pressure on the Blue Jackets defence. He was making plays, getting shots and was generally very involved in the play. And he played a whopping 24 minutes.
His two goals, to open the game and end the game in overtime, extend his points streak to eight games. He now has five goals and 11 points over his last eight games. That's more like the Jarome Iginla you expect than the one we saw start the season.
Coincidentally, Iginla is now back with the two players he started the season with: Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay. Jokinen, who had goals in two straight games coming in, had several good chances, including one on the first period off a neat Iginla set-up. For the time being, it would appear that trio is going to stick together. And they are all going to need to play some desperate hockey for a while.
"We need points and we are at a point where guys need to step it up and I am one of those guys," said Jokinen. "The team needs me to be at the top of my game."
Matt Stajan. Ouch. That has got to sting. For the second consecutive game the centre acquired in last year's blockbuster trade with Toronto, was a healthy scratch. With his former team coming to pay a visit to Calgary on Thursday it is hard to imagine that he would sit again.
Afterall, players seem to have a little extra in the tank when they play their former team. On the other hand, the Flames have three of a possible four points in the last two games and the coaches may not want to meddle too much with the line-up.
"You have to go with the mindset that you are playing," said Stajan, who has a goal and 15 assists in 25 games this season. "If you are told you are not, you are going to be caught by surprise."
Alex Tanguay. Okay, we know, we know. He was kicking himself after not being hard on the puck on a late, second period power play. But Alex Tanguay was far too nonchalant about playing the puck. That allowed Andrew Murray to snag the puck and feed Antoine Vermette in the slot for a big goal for Columbus. It came with a little more than a minute remaining in the second period and gave the visitors momentum heading into the third period. The Flames can ill afford to lose those kinds of battles if they want to get back into the playoff hunt.
"He has been solid for us all year," said Iginla of Tanguay. "We all make mistakes sometimes. Those skilled guys....make so many passes, so many attempts that they are going to have giveaways. On that one...it is one he would want back."
On the redemption side, it was Tanguay who fed Iginla a nice pass in overtime to set up the winner.