After a 4-2 loss Thursday night in Detroit, the Calgary Flames bounced back with a 6-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, getting their record back up above .500. It gives Henrik Karlsson his first NHL win, and finishes a three game road trip on a winning note. And Rene Bourque scored late in the third period to finish off his third career hat trick.
It was an odd hockey game, with Calgary doing all the damage needed in the first period. The Flames scored three times in the opening frame, starting with a Niklas Hagman marker following a powerplay. Hagman scooped up an awful Steve Mason rebound and made no mistake with the finish. Calgary would score again thanks to a nice pass from Matt Stajan, again following a powerplay…Stajan fed an Ian White one-timer from the point to put the Flames up 2-0. Derek Dorsett would get Columbus back within one, and the Jackets almost tied it late in the opening frame. But following a golden scoring chance at one end, the Flames went back the other way with Rene Bourque finishing an Olli Jokinen drop pass to put Calgary up 3-1. Steve Mason was suspect on at least two of the goals, and I didn’t feel the Flames dominated by any stretch, but they scored on their opportunities and took advantage of subpar goaltending.
The second period saw just one goal, again from the Flames, as Mikael Backlund fed Bourque beatifully on a Jackets powerplay. The shorthanded goal put the Flames up 4-1 and put them into a defensive shell for the rest of the game. Calgary really started to sit back, and they probably felt fairly safe in doing so, as the Jackets responded with almost zero push through most of this game.
The final frame saw both teams score, with Columbus gaining momentary life on a Jan Hejda pointshot, but that was cancelled very shortly after. Jarome Iginla found Alex Tanguay all by himself at the right circle and Tanguay made no mistake, blowing it by Mason to put the Flames back in front by three. In the dying seconds of the period, Bourque ripped one past Mason to give him the trick, and give Calgary their largest lead of the night. 6-2 would end up being the final.
Henrik Karlsson was fairly strong in net, giving up one bad goal (Dorsett), but making some big saves later on in the game. It’s kind of difficult to get a strong read on the Calgary Tower, because, well…that wasn’t the most difficult game to play in as a goalie. He certainly outplayed his counterpart, though.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? Well…the opposite of what we saw on Thursday. The Flames got contribution from their top offensive threats. Bourque finished with three goals and four points while Iginla finished with three assists. Jokinen and Stajan also had two points in this one. Granted, it was against an uninspired opponent, and you weren’t blown away with certain "top players" overall, but the top guys added offence and that’s important.
Well, tonight I’ll give it to Mark Giordano, just because I want to. Oh, and also because he was extremely strong and reduced Jackets sniper Rick Nash to a sniveling child in the second period. Gio delivered a strong, clean check to Nash on the end boards and Nash reacted like a child who lost his ball. No points, but a +2 for Mark, and he continues to be Calgary’s best skater. But no one is surprised by this.
PS…Rene Bourque should probably be here, but I like #5.
Sum It Up
The Columbus Blue Jackets looked like a team who had to show up but didn’t want to. There was almost zero push back in this game, and they made it pretty easy on Henrik Karlsson and the Flames. But, it’s rather cynical to say "the opposition sucked" as a reason why a team won a game. The truth is, Calgary was the better team, and while they may not have generated a ton of quality chances, they did convert upon the ones they did create.
I’d be wary of sitting back and admiring this one, but it lets the Flames finish their first road trip of the season successfully, and it gives them a win heading into a tough Sunday game against the Sharks.