NHL

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 - 9:00 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Blue Jackets 4, Flames 3, SO

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CALGARY, Alberta (AP)

Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets are hardly playing like a last-place team.

Nash scored the tying goal with 58 seconds left in regulation and then netted the only goal in the shootout to give Columbus a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.

The reinvigorated Blue Jackets improved to 4-2-2 in their last eight games. Even one of their recent losses was encouraging - they fired a franchise-record 48 shots on goal in a 4-1 defeat Tuesday night in Vancouver.

''Tonight was our first come-from-behind win on the road this year, so it's a big deal,'' said Nash, who leads the team with eight goals.

Calgary led 3-1 with less than five minutes left in the third period and appeared to be in control, but defenseman Nikita Nikitin and Nash scored to tie it.

Derek MacKenzie won a faceoff deep in the Flames end and Columbus quickly worked the puck back to Nikitin at the blue line. He fired a slap shot through traffic and past a screened Miikka Kiprusoff with 4:05 left.

Then, with Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford pulled for an extra skater, Nikitin set up the tying goal when his slap shot from the blue line was deflected in by Nash.

''I like the fact that we didn't stop playing,'' Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. ''We took right up to the end of the game to get the tying goal, but we've had lots of games where we've lost those. This team needs a game like that, a comeback game like that.''

Calgary became the final NHL team to go to a shootout this season, but failed to pull out the win. Alex Tanguay, Lee Stempniak and Rene Bourque were all stopped by Sanford in the tiebreaker.

''We turned the puck over a couple times in the last few minutes. We lost position on Nash's goal - he was wide open for that slap tip. They outworked us in the last 5 minutes,'' Bourque said.

After Jeff Carter and Fedor Tyutin were denied by Kiprusoff, Nash scored the decisive goal by faking a shot before sliding the puck between Kiprusoff's legs.

Antoine Vermette also scored for Columbus (7-15-3), which plays in Edmonton on Friday night. Nikitin had three points and Sanford made 32 saves in his eighth straight start.

Acquired from St. Louis on Nov. 11 for Kris Russell, Nikitin has a goal and seven assists in 10 games with the Blue Jackets after recording zero points in seven games this season for the Blues.

''He created the first two goals and obviously set up the last one, too,'' Nash said. ''Credit to him, he had a big night and on the road, you need different guys stepping up, and guys you wouldn't expect.''.

Vermette has also been impressed by the 25-year-old Russian.

''He's been really good for us. He's playing with a lot of confidence,'' Vermette said. ''He's holding onto the puck, making plays - he seems pretty calm back there. He's been pretty effective for us and tonight, obviously, he came up with some big plays.''

Stempniak, Bourque and Blake Comeau scored for Calgary (10-12-2).

''We're a team that's trying to build some momentum and we can't be giving away points,'' Flames defenseman Chris Butler said. ''It's nice to get one, but those are games we have to nail down a win.''

Bourque broke a 1-all tie with 19 seconds left in the second period. He streaked past defenseman Jim Wisniewski and sent a slap shot into the top corner. Bourque, who had just one goal and one assist in his last 15 games, jumped head-on into the glass after the goal.

Bourque has seven goals and is tied for the team lead with Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross.

Mark Letestu had a chance to atone for his giveaway on a third-period power play, but his dangerous shot from the slot was stabbed by the outstretched glove of Kiprusoff, who made 30 saves.

Calgary extended its lead to 3-1 5:48 into the third period on Comeau's first goal of the season. Comeau entered the Columbus zone and stopped sharply, causing Nikitin to slide out of the play, then fired a shot that hit Vinny Prospal in front and trickled past Sanford.

Comeau entered with no points in his first 19 games. It was his fourth game with the Flames after being claimed off waivers from the New York Islanders, with whom the 25-year-old forward scored 24 goals last season.

Calgary tied it 1-all at 13:02 of the period. Jay Bouwmeester's slap shot missed the net, but the puck took a lively carom, and Stempniak scored from a sharp angle.

Columbus took a 1-0 lead 5:23 in when Nikitin's shot from the blue line was stopped by Kiprusoff, but Vermette was there to put in the rebound.

NOTES: For the first time since the end of the 2008-09 season, D Mark Giordano (hamstring) was out of the Flames lineup, ending a stretch of 187 consecutive games. Cory Sarich took his place after being a healthy scratch in nine of the previous 11 games. ... The Flames were 0 for 1 on the power play. Calgary's last home power-play goal was scored by Bourque on Oct. 26. They are 0 for 28 since, and 2 for 45 overall at home this season. ... Calgary is 12-1-3 in its last 15 home games against Columbus. ... Prospal's assist on Nikitin's goal was his 700th NHL point.

Tagged: Curtis Sanford, Flames, Islanders, Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Miikka Kiprusoff, Rick Nash, Lee Stempniak, Rene Bourque, Blake Comeau, Antoine Vermette

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