Saturday matinee hockey in the Saddledome, as the Flames hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were looking to get their sixth consecutive win on the road, while the Flames were looking to build on the vital 4-1 victory over Philadelphia from Thursday night.
Josh Jooris and Drew Shore sat the game out, meaning a second successive game for Markus Granlund, and the continued presence of Michael Ferland. Karri Ramo was between the pipes for the Flames, with Sergei Bobrovsky backing up the Jackets.
An early chance for Artem Anisimov was deflected away by David Schlemko, who fell hard and straight into the boards. He disappeared down the tunnel, but returned soon after.
A high-sticking call on Jared Boll gave the Flames an early powerplay chance, and it didn't take long for Sean Monahan to convert a pass across the crease by Johnny Gaudreau for his 29th of the season at 4:18.
A minute later, Johnny Gaudreau was allowed to skate into the zone, right in front of Bobrovsky, before dropping it back to Jiri Hudler, whose attempt to go top shelf was thwarted superbly by the Russian.
The Blue Jackets' first attack of any real note came at 6:30, with Scott Hartnell throwing a shot at Ramo's pads. The initial rebound fell to a Jacket in front, whose shot was blocked by Kris Russell, with the second rebound landing well for Marko Dano, but he put his chance onto the crossbar.
They came again midway through the period, Hartnell again causing trouble in the Flames zone, causing a scramble in front of Ramo which was eventually cleared away.
However, the Jackets would eventually break the resistance. Ryan Johansen picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, and played a perfect cross-ice pass over to former Flame Rene Bourque, who duly tipped it in and tied the game up at 11:13.
Following the goal, the game became pretty even, although the Flames had the better chances to score. An innocuous-looking dump into the boards bounced back and hit Bobrovsky's skate, but he recovered well to grab the puck behind him before it had the chance to trickle over the line. Later on, a Schlemko shot from the blueline was redirected by Lance Bouma, but Bobrovsky reacted well to get his toe to it.
At 16:59 Cody Goloubef was called for high sticking, giving the Flames their second powerplay of the afternoon. Nothing doing on this one though, the best chance came from a Hudler shot from the hashmarks which flew out of play via the crossbar.
End of 1: 1-1. The Flames led 12-6 on shots, and the Corsi 23-11.
Early in the second, Bobrovsky was indecisive with the puck on his stick, which wasn't a good idea with the incoming Monahan ready to pounce. He took the puck behind and fed in front to Hudler, who scored into the empty net to make it 2-1 at 22:44. Hudler's 26th of the season signalled his best ever goalscoring year.
The first half of the second period belonged to the Flames. A good minute of pressure from the Bollig/Stajan/Ferland line forced several good saves from Bobrovsky, who looked to have recovered from his brief wobble. This was followed by Brodie and Gaudreau both going close, too. The ice certainly seemed tilted towards the Jackets' goal.
Halfway through the period, Mark Letestu bailed TJ Brodie into the boards. Ferland took exception to it, and Corey Tropp took exception to that. They had a brief meeting of the fists and went to sit down for 5 minutes.
This seemed to change the pace of the game, with the Jackets feeding off the momentum gained by the fight win. A nice dangle by Anisimov into the Flames zone saw him come close, but his attempt to put it under Ramo was thwarted by the Finn. The Jackets then forced a couple of icings, but on a rare Flames break out, a shot from the boards was redirected by Russell, bringing another good save from Bobrovsky.
There was a lot of pressure from the Jackets, but they seemed to lack a cutting edge.
Late in the period, Hartnell decided to take a couple of pot shots at Brodie, who returned a couple, too. Nick Foligno then decided he wanted to wipe Wideman's face. All 4 involved got 2 minutes for roughing, and play remained 5 on 5.
Just before the buzzer went, Raphael Diaz missed almost an open net, shooting the puck wide when it looked easier to score.
End of 2: 2-1 Flames. Shots on goal were 12-8 Flames, with the Corsi 23-18 in their favour, too.
Good start to the third by the Jackets, punctuated by a woeful giveaway by Russell, collected by Artem Anisimov behind the net, who wasn't even challenged as he brought it in front and tied it up on the backhand. Ramo got some of it, but not enough. 2-2 at 44:21.
Immediate response from the Flames. Hudler backhanded the puck into the crease, and it stayed loose for what seemed like forever, but Bobrovsky dived on it before a Flame could get there.
This was followed by an extremely dodgy embellishment call on Gaudreau after he was tripped by Fedor Tyutin on a 2-on-2 breakaway. The call seemed very harsh on Gaudreau, but protests weren't going to change any minds, and they skated 4-on-4.
Partway through, Cam Atkinson caught Wideman with a high-stick, and the Flames went on the powerplay again. A couple of chances, but nothing to trouble Bobrovsky. Except Atkinson played at the puck while he still had a foot in the box, so he went and sat down again, but nothing came from that penalty either.
Another set of consecutive icings followed before Bourque decided the best way to get his stick past Wideman was to go through his head. Flames powerplay with 3 minutes remaining.
Hudler brought the puck in early, feeding to Monahan who found iron rather than twine. Other than that, it was a sloppy powerplay. A last minute scramble in front of Ramo was cleared away, and the game went to overtime.
End of 3: 2-2. Shots 14-9. Corsi 23-19, both to the Flames.
Early pressure from the Jackets in overtime forced two saves from Ramo. The Flames never really got anything going for the entire period, and it cost them.
The Jackets circled the puck well, and of all people to score an overtime winner, it had to be Rene Bourque, with 59 seconds left.
Final: Flames 2-3 Blue Jackets. Total shots 40-26 to the Flames, and the Corsi 73-52.
- Good to see Michael Ferland and Markus Granlund get some decent ice time, and they certainly didn't look out of place.
- It was nice to watch the Flames actually control a game for once. On a different night, they score six or seven, but they came up against a superb Sergei Bobrovsky performance.
- Two more big goals tonight. Hudler gets his best ever season in goalscoring terms, and Monahan is now tied 9th in the league this season, along with Corey Perry.
- Two soft giveaways, two goals. The first happened at neutral ice so there was still work to do, but that one by Kris Russell in the third was unforgivable. Hopefully it doesn't cost the Flames too much in 10 games' time.
- Outside the top line, there never seemed like a goal would come. There were plenty of scoring chances, but the feeling tonight was that unless it was Gaudreau, Monahan or Hudler, it wasn't going in.
- Offensive zone faceoffs seemed an issue. Not many were won. Overall, the tally was 48-30 to the Jackets, but I'll be interested to see the zone breakdowns on that stat.