Iginla’s goal, 2 assists lift Flames over Jackets
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — The Calgary Flames have been getting contributions from just about everyone this season. It was finally captain Jarome Iginla’s turn.
Iginla broke out of an extended scoring slump with a goal and two assists in the Flames’ 6-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
It was the first multipoint game of the season for Iginla, who had only four points in Calgary’s first eight games. But the Flames (6-2-1) have been winning without his offense.
“It’s been a fun start,” Iginla said. “It’s still been a really enjoyable October. As a team, it feels like we have a lot of good things going and it feels like we can still get better.”
Iginla played his second consecutive game on a line centered by Craig Conroy, and the reunited linemates combined to set up first-period goals by Curtis Glencross and Jay Bouwmeester as Calgary took a 3-1 lead.
With the Flames leading 4-3 in the third period, Iginla scored at 12:46 by snapping a shot from the faceoff dot into the top corner past goalie Steve Mason.
“I look at the shots and the quality scoring chances he had, and tonight was his best game,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said.
Daymond Langkow, Dion Phaneuf and Fredrik Sjostrom also scored for the Flames (6-2-1), who improved to 2-0 on a season-high five-game homestand.
Sjostrom took a pass behind his back, pulled the puck to his forehand and, despite being hooked off balance on a breakaway, spun around and curled the puck inside the far post from a sharp angle for his first goal with the Flames.
“That was one of my better ones,” he said. “It was just a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. I was really excited to see that one go in, I’ve been waiting a long time.”
The goal was the talk of the Flames dressing room.
“That was sick, huh? That was probably one of the best goals of the year,” Iginla said.
Rick Nash, Derrick Brassard, and Jakub Voracek had goals for the Blue Jackets (5-2-0), who started a four-game road trip. Columbus finished with a 30-22 shots advantage.
Despite being outplayed for the entire period, Calgary broke a 3-3 tie at 13:44 of the second on Phaneuf’s team-leading fifth goal.
“He just got a quick release off mid-stride and the puck kind of caught me off-guard a bit,” Mason said. “You look at that, we just tied the game up and then you let a goal in like that. It really takes a lot of energy out of the team.”
A key sequence came early when the Flames, who led 2-0, received a 5-on-3 power play for 1:23. But Calgary’s second-ranked power play couldn’t generate anything against the Blue Jackets, who have the NHL’s top penalty-killing unit.
Columbus struck while down two men. Nash used a burst of speed to beat Phaneuf to a loose puck in the Flames zone, and the Columbus captain swooped in on Miikka Kiprusoff, deking the goalie for his fourth goal of the season, and second short-handed tally in two games.
Calgary restored its two-goal lead when Bouwmeester netted his first with the Flames at 11:24. That seemed to ignite the Blue Jackets, who didn’t allow another Calgary shot for more than 21 minutes.
Columbus converted its two-man advantage 25 seconds into the second period. Brassard’s shot from the blue line through R.J. Umberger’s screen at 52 seconds made it 3-2.
The Blue Jackets tied it 48 seconds later when Brassard set up Voracek, who roofed a shot while Kiprusoff was trapped out of position.
Mason had allowed only one goal in each of his previous two games, but he was beaten twice in the opening 4 minutes by the Flames, who recorded the first seven shots of the period.
“He struggled, he really struggled,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said of Mason. “The difference in the hockey game was when it was 3-3, Kiprusoff had to make six or seven great saves and then when it was 4-3, he had to make three or four unbelievable saves and he did it, and that’s what got them the two points.”
Nash quickly came to Mason’s defense.
“Everyone’s going to have bad nights. He’s won us so many games single-handedly and we didn’t give him much help,” Nash said.
Calgary opened the scoring at 2:42 when Bouwmeester’s point shot deflected off the skate of a Columbus defenseman and went right to Langkow, who was left with an open net.
Glencross made it 2-0 at 3:57.
NOTES: Calgary D Aaron Johnson made his Flames debut. Acquired in an Oct. 7 trade with Chicago, it was Johnson’s first game since April 12. Johnson was a healthy scratch for all 17 of Chicago’s playoff games last season. … Since the start of the 2007-08 season, Nash has 11 short-handed goals, second in the NHL behind Philadelphia’s Mike Richards (12). … Columbus D Mike Commmodore (groin) is practicing and is expected back in the lineup soon… The Blue Jackets fell to 3-1 when allowing the first goal.