CALGARY – It looks like the old Jarome Iginla is back for the Calgary Flames, and just in time.
Iginla scored twice and added two assists Tuesday night to lead the Calgary Flames to a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mike Cammalleri added a goal and two assists as the Flames top two scorers combined for their biggest night since a 10-point outburst on New Year’s Eve in a win over the Edmonton Oilers.
After second period goals by Dion Phaneuf and Cammalleri broke open a 1-1 game, Iginla capped off a terrific evening with his 24th goal of the season into an empty net with 31 seconds remaining.
“I’m relaxing more now,” said Iginla, who has four goals in four games after notching just two in his previous 19 games. “When you start pressing, you don’t move as quickly and you don’t see things as sharply. I’m also playing with a little bit more confidence.”
Iginla’s recent slump was not as a big of a concern as it could have been as the Flames kept on winning, getting contributions from the likes of Rene Bourque (21 goals) and Daymond Langkow (18 goals).
However, they’ll need Iginla to return to form with Bourque (ankle) and Langkow (hand) both going down with injuries recently.
“When you get in a little bit of a rut, you start trying to simplify it but there’s a fine line for me,” said Iginla. “You get too simple, you just chip it down the boards, you just chip it in, and that doesn’t feel like that’s my game. I have to try and hold it, get some give and go’s going with Cammie and Connie (Craig Conroy), and get the feet moving”.
With 828 career points, Iginla moved within two points of Flames all-time leader Theoren Fleury (830).
Calgary (36-18-6) has won three straight and has earned points in each of its last eight games (6-0-2). Combined with Vancouver’s 3-0 loss to Montreal, the first-place Flames open up a 10 point cushion over the Canucks in the Northwest Division.
R.J. Umberger scored for Columbus (30-25-6). After earning points in seven straight games, the Blue Jackets have now lost two straight.
Sitting sixth in the Western Conference, the Blue Jackets are just one point up on a pack of four teams.
“It’s a tough building to come into. You know they have a good team, it’s always a good crowd, and they play a rough style,” said Columbus captain Rick Nash. “I wish I had the answer on why we can’t win here.”
Calgary broke a 1-1 tie at 11:57 of the second period, converting its first power play opportunity of the night. Iginla and Cammalleri combined to work the puck to Phaneuf at the blue-line and the defenceman let a wicked slapshot go that beat a screened Steve Mason.
It was the Flames’ first power play goal in five games.
Just over three minutes later, Cammalleri struck for his 30th of the season.
“When they scored that first power play goal, it seems like we dropped our heads on the bench and lost our energy,” former Flame Kristian Huselius said. “Prior to that, I don’t think they were in our end much at all”.
Columbus outplayed Calgary in the first period outshooting them 15-9 but the score ended up tied 1-1.
“Knowing how good a team they are, you have to make sure you jump on them quick. We had to capitalize on a couple of those early chances to have a better chance to win,” said Nash.
Kiprusoff made 28 saves to win his NHL-leading 36th game (36-15-5). After giving up five goals on 13 shots in his previous start, Mason was better overcoming a shaky start to finish the night with 24 stops. Mason’s record falls to 23-14-3.
One of the best players for Columbus was Huselius, who turned in an inspired five-shot effort in his first meeting against his former club.
“I could have had four goals in the first 30 minutes – clear chances, breakaways, a couple chances in front of the net. Kipper made some great saves but also the puck bounced over my stick a couple times,” said Huselius.
Calgary opened the scoring in the game’s opening minute.
Craig Conroy directed a harmless shot on net but Mason could not control the rebound and Cammalleri knocked it across to Iginla, who stopped it with his skate then kicked it up to his stick and knocked it in the open net.
The lead was short-lived as Umberger drew the Blue Jackets even at 3:12.
Umberger’s 21st goal of the season is a career-high. He had notched 20 in his rookie season with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06.
Notes: Columbus D Aaron Rome, recalled Saturday from Syracuse (AHL), was inserted into the line-up in place of D Christian Backman, who was a healthy scratch… Columbus C Chris Gratton did not play again and has yet to make his Blue Jackets debut after being claimed on waivers on Saturday… Between the two teams, 11 players were missing due to injury, six belonging to Calgary. Columbus would have also had six but LW Jason Chimera (groin) returned after sitting out the previous game… Calgary LW Eric Nystrom played in his 100th career NHL game… Columbus is 16-13-2 all-time against the Flames.