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Blue Jackets top Flames in OT on Nikitin goal

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Columbus Blue Jackets didn't let their worst performance of the season carry into a second game.

Nikita Nikitin scored 2:25 into overtime to give the Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, one night after they drew the ire of coach Todd Richards after being demolished 7-0 by the Edmonton Oilers.

"The great thing about sports is you always get a chance to prove yourself," Richards said. "Coming off [Tuesday] night, sometimes as a coach you're not sure what you're going to get. I'm real happy the way the guys stepped up tonight. You question their character a little bit and they came out and they played hard. [We] ran out of gas a little bit towards the end, but I thought we battled for 60-plus minutes tonight."

The Blue Jackets managed all of 18 shots against Calgary, but opened the scoring midway through the first period on Nick Foligno's goal before winning it on Nikitin's.

Calgary goaltender Reto Berra denied Artem Anisimov during an overtime scramble before Cam Atkinson found David Savard in the slot. His shot was blocked but the puck skipped to Nikitin, who hit the back of a virtually empty net for his first of the season to give Columbus the win.

"I was just trying to go and Cam gave me a good pass," Savard said. "I was trying to put it on net. [Nikitin] got the rebound."

Joe Colborne scored early in the third period for the Flames, who've dropped six in a row at Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I don't think it was the most exciting game," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "They scored early and it seemed they would be happy to go home with a 1-0 road win. We kept plugging. I felt in that third period, that's where we skated the best. We generated some good pucks at the net. We had decent looks out there.

"But the bottom line is it's pretty tough to win when you only have one line going. Matt Stajan's line was, by far, our best line. We didn't get enough from the other three."

Columbus managed just six shots in the first period but took the lead on Foligno's fifth of the season.

R.J. Umberger gained the zone only to have the puck knocked off his stick, but it landed on the tape of Foligno. He stepped in and fired a shot that nicked the stick of Flames defenseman TJ Brodie and beat Berra at 9:21.

The goal came two minutes after Ryan Johansen set up Jack Johnson with a backdoor, cross-ice pass with Dennis Wideman in the penalty box; Berra made a spectacular bicycle kick save to keep the game scoreless.

"I passed it over and I was like 'OK, it's just Jack and the goalie.' I couldn't even see," Johansen said. "He saved it and it went over my head. I was like 'How did he stop that?' I had to wait a couple minutes to see the reply in shock. That's got to be up there in the top saves of the year so far."

Berra downplayed the save.

"Never give up," he said. "I was too far out and I thought [Johansen] was going to shoot and then he passed it, so I was way too late [across]. There was nothing else I could do. I just tried to bring something from my body there, and it hit me right on my, I think, skate. It was luck, too.

"I'd rather want two points, that's for sure."

Berra and Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky traded nifty saves late in the period. Berra flashed the glove to rob former Flame Blake Comeau before Bobrovsky blockered away Mike Cammalleri's wrister off a give-and-go with Stajan for one of his 23 saves.

The teams traded chances again in a scoreless second period that saw the Flames outshoot Columbus 8-7. Their best opportunities didn't register as shots on goal -- Brodie snuck a point shot past Bobrovsky but struck iron at 8:09, and Mark Letestu's wrister at Berra two minutes later met the same fate.

Calgary tied it 3:28 into the third period.

Colborne picked up a broken stretch pass by Kris Russell in the neutral zone, cut in on Johnson and lifted a backhand Bobrovsky's glove for his second goal of the season and first in 13 games. It was the only shot to beat Bobrovsky, who allowed four goals on 18 shots in 28:30 of action against Edmonton.

"They're a proud team over there," Colborne said. "We knew that they didn't have the effort they wanted last night, so effort wouldn't be the problem for them. We have to give them credit, they played a good, solid game, but we failed to assert our will until the end."

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