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Flames blitzed in first game without Iginla

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames ushered in the post-Jarome Iginla era.

The Columbus Blue Jackets managed to knock out the remaining face of the Flames franchise.

Columbus scored four times against Miikka Kiprusoff in the second period, chasing the veteran goaltender in a wild 6-4 victory at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night in Calgary's first game without Iginla.

“We can make excuses. We can say what we want about what's happened, the speculation, but at the end of the day, as players, we've got to come out and play hard," forward Matt Stajan said.

Matt Calvert, who had one of Columbus' four goals in the middle period, admitted that facing an Iginla-less Flames team was a strange experience.

"It's definitely different. They're missing their leader and their best player," Calvert said. "I think for me, I watched him a lot being from out west. It's a change for the organization. Columbus went through the same thing last year with Rick Nash. It's a change but it's all about how they deal with it. I thought they were a solid team and gave us a good effort."

The loss ended Calgary's eight-game winning streak on home ice and earned Columbus (14-14-7) a split in Alberta after losing to the Edmonton Oilers 6-4 the night before.

"We needed to salvage the road trip," defenseman Jack Johnson said. "It wasn't a great road trip for us but it wasn't detrimental either. When you're going into tonight, it was crucial to get two points. There's really nothing else that needed to be said."

After the unlikeliest of scorers, Brian McGrattan, tied the game 1-1 for the Flames (13-16-4), Columbus went to work in a defensively absent period that featured seven goals and three successful odd-man rushes for the Blue Jackets.

The first came via R.J. Umberger, who left Vinny Prospal with a virtual tap-in after a crisp cross-ice pass to put the Blue Jackets up 2-1 at 8:44.

On Columbus' second 2-on-1 in just over a minute, Calvert looked off the passing option before rifling a shot over the glove of Kiprusoff at 10:12.

As quickly as Columbus built the lead, Calgary's Mikael Backlund cut it. Just 57 seconds after Calvert's goal, Backlund took a blocked Mark Giordano shot and slid the puck through goalie Steve Mason to bring the Flames to within 3-2 at 11:09.

The Blue Jackets' third odd-man rush of the period yielded their third goal with 3:41 left. Prospal moved the puck to Mark Letestu, who fed Derick Brassard to give Columbus the 4-2 edge.

Calgary's Dennis Wideman cut the lead again 1:29 later, but Columbus was not done.

Ryan Johansen stripped the puck off the stick of Stajan at center ice, deked Kiprusoff and lifted the puck into the net for his second of the season with 1:05 to go.

"The chances they got were very good chances and they put them in the back of our net," Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said.

Joey MacDonald started the third period in place of Kiprusoff, who allowed four goals on eight shots in the period and five on 20 shots on the evening.

After robbing Derek MacKenzie with a diving save eight minutes into the period, MacDonald followed it by denying Prospal on a breakaway attempt.

The saves led to Curtis Glencross' 14th goal of the season; the Flames' leading scorer sniped a shot over Mason's glove to cut the lead to 5-4 with 5:40 remaining.

"You thought you were comfortable with a two-goal lead, but that wasn't the case tonight," Calvert said. "Both teams just kept coming and I think you saw both teams push for a playoff spot and hungry. It was an exciting game. The tempo was high and we were lucky to come out on top."

Mason denied Mike Cammalleri before Umberger hit the empty net with 35.2 seconds remaining.

"It was a timely save you need to make in order to win hockey games and it was one of a couple throughout the night," Mason said. "For myself, making a save like that towards the end of the game when you're up one goal is big."

The Blue Jackets didn't waste any time welcoming Kiprusoff and the Flames to life without Iginla, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, directing eight shots on the Calgary goaltender in the first eight minutes.

A shorthanded effort on the ninth shot gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead.

Retrieving the puck after a Columbus clear, Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie curled around the net after a speedy forecheck from MacKenzie. Under pressure, Brodie threw the puck into the slot to what he thought was a waiting teammate -- but instead it found Letestu, who wasted little time deking a surprised Kiprusoff and sliding the puck into the net at 10:20 for the unassisted tally and the only goal of the first period.

"I think if you go back and look at the goals, we had some gifts given to us tonight and we were able to capitalize," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "It started with the first goal and we had a couple others where, from what I remember, they had pucks on their sticks and whether we knocked it off or they pass, it ended up being a turnover and we were able to capitalize."

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