Aside from the final five minutes of the hockey game, the Calgary Flames played one of their more controlling games of the season on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Unfortunately for the Flames, the final five minutes was enough for them to scuttle all the prior positives as Calgary coughed up a pair of goals and ended up falling 4-3 in a shootout at the hands of the Blue Jackets.
Much like their game on November 21st in Columbus, the Flames didn’t have the strongest start to the game, allowing Columbus to open the scoring at 5:23 of the opening frame. Antoine Vermette was able to push home a rebound in the blue paint for his third of the season (and second against Calgary) for a 1-0 lead. But as Calgary started to take the game over in the second half of the period, they’d get things all square again when Lee Stempniak was able to beat Curtis Sanford as the Jackets goalie was out of position on the play. Stempniak’s sixth of the season had the game tied after 20 with shots 15-5 in favour of the visitors; however, Kent had scoring chances 5-3 Calgary, which was a much more accurate barometer of the period.
The second period was one of the best all season for the Flames, as they crushed their opponents possession wise and limited the Jackets to just two scoring chances period. Calgary scored on one of their nine in the waning seconds of the period, as Rene Bourque blazed his seventh of the season past Sanford from the left circle with just 19 seconds remaining in the period.
With a one goal lead, the Flames were pretty solid in holding Columbus off early on and they’d seem to seal things within the first six minutes. Blake Comeau would finally break the streak, scoring his first of the season at 5:48 as his left circle shot deflected off of Vaclav Prospal in front of the net. With a couple powerplays in the period, the Jackets had a few chances to score, but were thwarted by Miikka Kiprusoff when they were there; that was until 15:55 of the period. Off a faceoff win, Nikita Nikitin would score his first of the season from the right point to get the Jackets within one which lead to the Columbus equalizer with the net empty. On some miscommunication on an icing call, the Jackets were able to gain possession in the offensive zone; a Nikitin shot would be tipped in front by Rick Nash at 19:02, tying the game on Nash’s eighth of the season.
Overtime saw Calgary generate three unsuccessful scoring chances, but after nothing was decided in the extra five, it was shootout time. Alex Tanguay and Lee Stempniak were stopped on their first two shots while Jeff Carter and Fedor Tyutin were unsuccessful on their chances it was Nash again winning the game, beating Kiprusoff five-hole on the third Columbus shot. Sanford would stop Bourque to give the Blue Jackets a 4-3 win, just their second on the road this season.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Well, a bad five minute stretch. Calgary would have been full marks for a regulation win, as they were dominant by the scoring chance metric and did a nice job bullying the Jackets in the third period. But mistakes, faceoff losses, and bad decisions in the third period forced this to a shootout, when you flip a coin. Columbus stole one in Calgary, and the Flames played well, but I don’t know how much consolation that’s going to be.
Blake Comeau. His line with Mikael Backlund and Lee Stempniak was a force to be reckoned with in this one, all on the ice for eight even strength scoring chances. Comeau gets the nod thanks to his +7 ES scoring chance differential and his first goal of the season, which we hope is something that starts a trend for the speedy forward.
Sum It Up
The Flames simply cannot afford to give away points, one, two, or otherwise. They gift wrapped two to the Red Wings last week without getting one of their own, while they gave away a chance at two points tonight. It’s frustrating because it really does wipe out the type of game the Flames needed to play. Ah well, onto the road they go.