Red-hot Blue Jackets host Flames
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Coach John Tortorella's mantra of “safe is death” is fully displayed on the walls of the Columbus Blue Jackets' locker room and his team is all-in with the philosphy.
Columbus (10-4-3) looks to extend its home point streak to nine contests when it hosts the Calgary Flames on Wednesday after its club-record seven-game winning streak was snapped with a 3-2 overtime loss to Colorado on Monday. The Blue Jackets are 4-0-1 in their last five games overall.
“I think it's a great saying,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “For the way he wants us to play, I think it makes us feel good about going out there, possibly making mistakes and creating offense. What he means is if you're going out there and trying to make something happen, he'll live with that.
“But if you're going out there, just going through the motions and making careless plays, that's something we're not going to accept on this team.”
Calgary (8-12-1) makes its only regular-season visit to Columbus as part of a six-game nine-day road trip through the Eastern Conference. The Flames already traveled approximately 2,464 of the 6,049 miles that encompass the trip.
They opened the trek with a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Sunday before losing to Buffalo 4-2 on Monday.
Calgary is far from full strength with left wing Johnny Gaudreau out with a broken finger. The Flames are still without center Lance Bouma (shoulder) and right wing Kris Versteeg (groin), although Versteeg could play in Columbus.
Special teams could play a role in Wednesday's game as the Blue Jackets boast the top power-play unit at 31.1 percent, which increases to 40 percent at home. Calgary, meanwhile, took six penalties in Buffalo and the Sabres scored three goals — two with a two-man advantage and one on a 5-on-4 — in a span of 1:41.
“Extended five-on-threes are tough, when they're that long,” Flames captain Mark Giordano told the National Post. “But again, we have to kill them. And then when something bad does happen, we can't dwell on it. We can't let it pile up like it did there.
“That was just one after the other, and it's not good enough.”
That performance leaves Calgary with the second-worst penalty-killing unit in the league at 72.7 percent.
Meanwhile, Columbus' 61 penalties are the third-fewest in the NHL.
Neither Brian Elliott (3-9-0, 3.42 goals-against average, .882 save percentage) nor Chad Johnson (5-3-1, 2.31, .911) has asserted themselves as the Flames' clear No. 1 goaltender.
There's no such issue with the Jackets as Sergei Bobrovsky (10-4-1, 2.19, .931), who returns to the net Wednesday, is off to a solid start. Backup Curtis McElhinney (0-0-2, 2.09, .925) suffered the loss Monday.