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Jackets rally to beat Flames 4-3 in shootout

by Aaron Vickers /
CALGARY -- Rick Nash saved his best for last. Twice.

The Columbus captain tied the game by scoring with 57.2 seconds remaining in the third period, then beat Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff for the only goal of the shootout as the Blue Jackets rallied to beat the Flames 4-3 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday night.

The Jackets hope the late comeback win is another step their comeback from a disastrous start that has dimmed their playoff hopes even before the holidays arrive.

"We haven't come back from a game yet to win one on the road," Nash said. "It was a huge comeback. I don't think we've won (a shootout) this year yet. You're pretty lucky when you score one and win the shootout. You've got to give your goalie a lot of credit."

The Blue Jackets trailed 3-1 with just over four minutes remaining in regulation, but Nikita Nikitin beat Kiprusoff with a screened slap shot at 15:55, setting the stage for Nash's 6-on-5 goal, a deflection of a shot by Nikitin with goalie Curtis Sanford on the bench for an extra attacker.

"You need your best players to be your best," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "Rick has the ability to get to those areas and he did a great job doing it. To have your top goal scorer to have a chance to win the hockey game like we had with Rick, that's what you want."

Kiprusoff and Sanford both stopped the first two shootout tries they faced, but Nash slid the puck between Kiprusoff's legs to start the third round. Sanford stopped Rene Bourque's snap shot for the win.

"I was looking high glove," Nash said. "Saw it wasn't there and just tried a quick five-hole."

The Flames led 2-1 after 40 minutes and built their lead to two goals at 5:48 of the third period when Blake Comeau scored his first goal of the season and his first as a Flame. Comeau, who had 24 goals last season with the New York Islanders and came to the Flames last week on waivers, beat Sanford 18 seconds after serving a penalty for high sticking.

"I just tried to get back into the zone as quickly as I could and the puck came around and I knew their defenseman was caught flat-footed so I tried to chip it by him," Comeau said. "I was looking to pass but the defenseman went down so I just threw it on net and it went in."

Comeau called the goal bittersweet.

"It's obviously nice to get the goal but obviously disappointing to lose that point," he said. "When you're up two goals that late, that's when you've got to buckle down and get that extra point."

Comeau's first point as a Flame came in the first period. Down 1-0, Comeau fed Jay Bouwmeester in the high slot. Bouwmeester's wrist shot missed to the far side, but a spinning Lee Stempniak corralled the rebound and beat an out-of-position Sanford between the legs to even the game at 13:02.

Antoine Vermette had Columbus on the board before the Flames could muster a shot on goal. After Kiprusoff stopped Nikitin's initial point shot, Vermette was able to put home the rebound at 5:23 to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead.

Just 43 seconds into the second period, the Flames had the chance to take the lead when Roman Horak found Bourque in the slot. Bourque one-timed the feed but couldn't squeak it through Sanford, who stopped 14 shots in the period, including late glove saves on Comeau and Matt Stajan.

But with 19 seconds left in the period, Bourque finally got a shot past Sanford's glove to give the Flames the lead entering the third period.

"We should be able to close those games out," Bourque said. "There goes our winning streak. We'll have to start over and learn from our mistakes."

The loss snapped Calgary's two-game winning streak -- the Flames have yet to win three consecutive wins as they head to Edmonton for a game Saturday night.

"We're definitely not happy," Bourque said. "Saturday is another big game for us. We have to put this behind us and get going and try to get some wins."

Ironically, the Jackets are also headed for Edmonton, where a victory Friday night would give them back-to-back road wins for the first time this season.

"We've got to get wins on the road," Nash said, whose club has won just twice away from Nationwide Arena. "We can't just be a home team. A comeback win is big. Hopefully we can bring the last five minutes of momentum into tomorrow night's game."
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