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Blue Jackets hold off Flames

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The Calgary Flames dug too big a hole for themselves against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

Jack Skille and Ryan Johansen gave the Blue Jackets (3-1-0) a two-goal lead in the first six minutes, Matt Calvert made it 3-0 eight minutes into the second period and the Flames (3-3-0) could do no more than make it close when they came to life in the third period of a 3-2 loss at Nationwide Arena.

Calgary's Mason Raymond ended Sergei Bobrovsky's shutout bid when he scored at 2:21. Josh Jooris, playing in his first NHL game, made it a one-goal game when scored on a partial breakaway with 8:17 remaining, delighting his family, which had driven from Burlington, Ontario, for the game.

The Flames (3-3-0) spent most of the remainder of the game in the Columbus end and nearly completed the comeback but hit a post and were denied on two other occasions in the final 90 seconds by Bobrovsky, who finished with 29 saves.

"The tide changed in the third period," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "We were pressuring and they were coughing up the puck. It's too bad, because we put out quite an effort but couldn't get the tying goal.

"At the end of the third period we knew we had momentum. You could feel it on the bench. We put ourselves on our heels. Then it's catch-up hockey. Sometimes it works."

Bobrovsky lost his shutout three seconds after Calvert's charging penalty expired and before he could get back into the play, Curtis Glencross controlled a rebound and fed Raymond though the paint on the left side; he tapped it in for his fourth goal of the season.

"When you start a third period that way it's not easy to close out," Skille said. "We have to work on our killer mentality as a team, as a group. When we get ahead like that we have to make sure we keep pushing at teams and keep playing the way that got us there."

The Flames kept coming and Jooris, promoted Thursday from the Adirondack Flames of the American Hockey League, took a pass in the neutral zone from Mark Giordano and got behind the defense. He shirked Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski before beating Bobrovsky to the glove side.

"His game is about speed," Hartley said of Jooris, who signed as a free agent in July 2013 after playing at Union College. "He can skate. He's a good young man. He wants to learn. He's responsible defensively. It was a big goal, his first in the NHL. I'm very proud of him."

The Flames pulled goalie Karri Ramo (23 saves) with less than two minutes left in regulation but could not find the tying goal.

"It was chaotic but what I like to see out of the group is the guys battled," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "Sometimes it's going to get scrambly like that. Guys were diving headfirst … They were doing everything in their power to keep that puck out of the net."

The Blue Jackets made sure they didn't waste their strong start. Skille scored his second of the season at 2:59 of the first, and Johansen made it 2-0 at 5:21 with a power-play goal.

For Skille, it was justification for his move to the third line from the fourth when rookie forward Mark Dano was forced to miss the game because of an undisclosed injury. Skille's new linemate, Mark Letestu, set him up with a backhanded shovel pass to the low slot that he quickly converted with a slap shot.

"The first couple of periods we did really well with the forecheck but in the third we steered away from it," Skille said. "That's where the struggle came."

Johansen, who scored his first two goals of the season Tuesday against the Dallas Stars, got his third while Giordano was serving a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass. Nick Foligno guarded the puck below the goal line before blindly throwing it out to Johansen low in the right circle for a shot past Ramo.

"It was a couple of bad decisions early on," Hartley said. "We knew that it would be a pressure game because we pressure and they pressure. It's a matter of possession when both teams are committed to puck pursuit like this it's going to be a matter of where you make mistakes and where you make turnovers."

Calvert made it 3-0 after Wisniewski fired from the right point. Ramo made the initial stop, but the puck sat in the crease. Letestu went for it, but at the last second Calvert was checked from behind and knocked the puck into the net as he fell.

"Letestu made a great play. Unfortunately I stole it from him," Calvert said.

What could have been a blowout after that instead turned into an intense finish.

"When we got up 3-0 against a young team like that you know they're going to work," Calvert said. "For whatever reason, we let off a bit."

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