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Flames fall short in shootout loss to Jackets

by Aaron Vickers
CALGARY – The Columbus Blue Jackets were the first team eliminated from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Now they're starting to inflict some postseason headaches of their own.
While the Calgary Flames in contention to capture a berth in the highly-contested Western Conference, Steve Mason and the 30th-place Blue Jackets earned a 2-1 shootout victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday night, limiting their opposition to just one point in the thick of their intense playoff chase.
The 11th-place Flames were also unable to come away with the win against the 29th-ranked Edmonton Oilers on Friday, giving them just one of a possible four points against the two basement clubs this weekend.
"We're not satisfied," Matt Stajan said. "We're not here happy we got one point. We left a point on the table. That's our own fault. That's on us. There's nothing we can do now.
"We can't over-analyze. You learn from it. You move forward. We're in the situation we're in now."

Cam Atkinson beat Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff with a nifty deke in the fourth round of the shootout, while Mason stopped all four Flames faced to give the Blue Jackets their first win in five games.
"Obviously he's a pretty special guy and I look up to him as a goaltender, but the game was on the line and I was fortunate enough to get a good break and put it in the back of the net," Atkinson said.
Mason, coming on in relief of injured starter Curtis Sanford in the first period, stopped 30 shots in regulation and overtime.
"You never hope for it," Mason said. "You never hope to see your partner go down, but that's the role the back-up goaltender for that night is to be ready. No matter how focused you are, it's always tough when you're sitting there and getting tight in the cold arena."

After Nikita Nikitin staked the Blue Jackets to a 1-0 lead in first period, Stajan forced extra time with a goal in the third - scoring in his 600th NHL game.
From below the goal line, Curtis Glencross found Stajan parked at the side of the net, where the latter lifted the puck over the shoulder of Mason at 8:34 to make it 1-1.
Rick Nash almost ended it with 40.1 seconds remaining in the third. Unable to get a handle on a rolling rebound, Nash attempted a wrap-around that kicked off a leg in front of Kiprusoff before being covered by the Flames' goaltender to force overtime.
The first scoring chances of the game for either team came off the stick of Jay Bouwmeester.
Attempting to clear the puck from the front of the net, Bouwmeester actually misfired and put a shot on Kiprusoff just over three minutes in. On the same shift, Bouwmeester jumped into the rush at the other end of the ice, taking a pass in the slot and ringing a wrister off the post.

Nikitin would strike for Columbus' only goal at 13:03. After winning a faceoff in the Calgary zone, Darryl Boyce put the puck back to Brett Lebda, who set up Nikitin for a one-timer through a screen that found the back of the net.
Calgary pressed to tie it after Mason replaced Sanford. Lee Stempniak -- playing his first game after missing 21 due to an ankle injury -- fired a quick shot along the ice from 25 feet that was turned aside by Mason's left pad, one of five saves he was forced to make in just over five minutes of action.
"Coming in against Calgary, the way they play at home and how hard they come, I was thrown right into the fire as soon as I got in there and it got me in the game," Mason said.
With nothing but pressure in the Columbus end, the Flames tested Mason 16 more times in the second period -- but couldn't find the equalizer until Stajan's tally in the third.
"Really bad second period, some of our worst hockey that we've played in a long time," Columbus interim coach Todd Richards said. "We were able to regroup. It's a credit to the players."
With the loss, Calgary will turn its attention to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Currently in eighth, the Avs hold a two-point edge over the Flames.
"It's a playoff game," Mark Giordano said. "It's a team that's ahead of us in the standings. As it stands now, it's a game we look at like we have to win."
With just nine games remaining on the schedule for the Flames -- including five against teams immediately ahead of them in the standings -- the urgency isn't lost on Stajan.
"We've got to beat these teams that we're playing coming up," he said. "We have to beat Dallas. We have to beat Colorado. We have to beat L.A. They're the teams we're catching, so we have to win those games."
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