CALGARY – It was eight memorable seconds for Columbus left-winger Curtis Glencross.
The Blue Jackets rookie hopped over the boards and headed straight to the Calgary net where he notched his second goal of the night at 2:03 of overtime giving Columbus a 4-3 NHL victory over the Flames.
Kris Russells dump-in was tracked down in the Calgary corner by Kris Beech who backhanded the puck into the slot, where Glencross, evading the backcheck of Daymond Langkow, fired his fifth of the season past goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
“An awesome feeling, it’s unbelievable,” said Glencross. “One of the first shifts I’ve ever played four-on-four overtime for us. I just came straight off the bench, went straight down the middle, and there was no one around me.”
Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock likes what he has in Glencross, who turns 25 at the end of the month.
“He’s a really skilled guy, he’s got great speed, and he’s tough as nails,” Hitchcock said.
Beech and Nikolai Zherdev also scored for Columbus (12-10-4). The Blue Jackets finish up 1-2-0 on their three-game road swing through Western Canada and now return home, where nine of their next 10 games will be played at Nationwide Arena.
“We’ve held, we’ve treaded water here on the road, and this is it, this is our chance,” Hitchcock said adding that as many as five injured players could be returning to the Columbus line-up within the next 7-10 days.
Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow, and Adrian Aucoin scored for Calgary (10-13-4). The Flames have lost four in a row including six of its last eight games at the Pengrowth Saddledome (2-5-1).
Despite being just one point out of last place in the Northwest Division – having inched ahead of Edmonton with Saturday’s point – the Flames are just four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It doesn’t feel good right now. It never feels good when you don’t win,” said Iginla, the Flames best player all night.
“But at the same time, we’ve had a lot of guys that have been through things like this. We know the urgency, we know how important these games are, and we’re working. We know that if we stick with it, keep working at it, keep the habits right, and get a little bit better and a little bit better, all of a sudden you get on a roll and we’re close.”
After seeing its 2-0 lead erased in the second period, Columbus regained a 3-2 lead at 4:07 of the third when Beech’s attempted pass to Russell was accidentally deflected through the legs of a stunned Kiprusoff by Calgary’s Alex Tanguay.
Just 15 seconds later, Calgary got even. Iginla beat Sergei Fedorov on a faceoff in the Columbus zone, pulling the puck back to Aucoin, and the Flames defenceman rifled a shot that deflected off Columbus defenceman Adam Foote and past goaltender Fredrik Norrena.
Norrena made 33 saves in his second start in a row with the NHL’s shutout leader Pascal Leclaire again unavailable due to a hamstring injury.
“Freddie battles hard all the time, he’s a good goaltender, and it’s nice to finally reward him for his hard work,” said Glencross.
With the Flames trailing 2-0 in the second, the game’s momentum changed into Calgary’s favour immediately after Iginla got into his first fight of the season, tangling with Columbus defenceman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen.
Iginla had the upper hand in a spirited fight five minutes into the second period. Pockets of the sell-out crowd of 19,289 saluted Iginla with a standing ovation.
It also sparked the Flames as they reeled off the next seven shots on goal, eventually getting a power-play goal from Langkow at 9:05.
Iginla then did it all himself, tying the game 2-2 with a spectacular individual effort, bowling his way to the front of the net. As he was being knocked to the ice, he swatted his own rebound out of mid-air and past Norrena.
Trying to ignite the offence and kickstart two of his top offensive players, Calgary coach Mike Keenan moved struggling forwards Kristian Huselius and Langkow up onto the top line with Iginla and that trio was Calgary’s most effective line all night.
After opening the season with eight goals in nine games, Langkow’s goal was just his second in his last 18 games.
“Its always frustrating to lose a game but I was proud of the way the team worked and came back,” said Keenan.
Columbus opened the scoring on Zherdev’s goal at 8:20 of the first period. Before the end of the first, Glencross made it 2-0 knocking in his own rebound with 40 seconds left.
Notes: Iginla’s two points gets him to the 700 point mark for his NHL career (338 goals, 362 assists)… Calgary LW David Moss left the game halfway through the first period after hurting his left leg. He did not return and there was no update on his condition… Returning from injury for Calgary were Aucoin (one game, shoulder) and LW Marcus Nilson (six games, head)… Missing his first game of the season for Columbus was C Manny Malhotra, who was unable to play due to a knee injury… Calgary loses for the tenth time at home (6-7-3). Last year, the Flames lost just 11 games at home all season (30-9-2)… Calgary’s leader in plus/minus entering the game was Matthew Lombardi at plus-8. No other Flame was any higher than plus-4.