COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite being one of the NHL’s most prolific scorers, Jarome Iginla is usually nowhere to be found when the Calgary Flames get to a shootout.
For whatever reason, he just can’t seem to find the net in the tiebreaker that showcases the league’s shooting stars.
But coach Brent Sutter played a hunch by sending him out first, and Iginla came through. Iginla scored in regulation and then added a goal in the shootout to give the Flames a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
“I don’t think I shot many last year, or wasn’t successful,” Iginla said after adding to the Flames’ win streak and handing the Blue Jackets their fifth consecutive loss. “It’s been a while. It just feels good to get the fourth win in a row, to get a comeback in the third period in a tight game.”
With shootout specialist Alex Tanguay out for the third game in a row because of an undisclosed upper-body injury, Sutter decided to send out his captain.
“I just had a gut feeling that I would allow him to be our first shooter,” Sutter said. “No, he doesn’t normally shoot for us. He’s the first to admit he’s not as good as he’d like to be at it. He gets teased about it in the dressing room by the guys. I just thought, ‘Tonight, why not?'”
Iginla, who scored in the third period to tie it 1-1, stepped to centre ice in the shootout after Mark Letestu failed to score. The perennial all-star faked once, then twice, to get Steve Mason down on the ice, and then slipped the puck past him on the stick side.
He broke up when asked if he had a particular move in mind.
“I don’t really have a lot of great philosophies on that,” he said, laughing. “I definitely worked on it a lot this summer. (Backup goalie Henrik Karlsson) gave me one move. If I was to beat Hank, that was the one I’d use if I had the chance. I had that one in my head, and fortunately it worked.”
Miikka Kiprusoff, who had 27 saves through overtime, did the rest. He denied Rick Nash with a poke-check before James Wisniewski’s wrister clanged off the right post.
“We got a huge effort from Kiprusoff,” forward Blake Comeau said. “He kept us in it the whole way. Jarome scored a big goal in the third. The game wasn’t pretty, but when you’re in a race like we are, you’ll take two points any way you can get ’em.”
Derick Brassard scored for the Blue Jackets in the second period. Mason had 25 saves.
It was another late failure for the Blue Jackets, the worst closers in the NHL. They have lost seven games in which they led going into the third period.
“The third period was pretty good. We did a lot of good things,” embattled coach Scott Arniel said of his team, which has won just seven of its last 29 home games. “They were a little bit fresher team than we were. But we did a real good job of not giving up much and we created a couple of chances.”
The Blue Jackets, who lost 4-1 in Chicago on Monday night, had a lengthy team meeting after their morning skate.
“I told the players afterward that they went out and played for each other,” Arniel said. “They played hard for each other. They did the little things together. You could tell on the bench there was a lot of energy. I just told (GM Scott Howson) I would like to have seen them be rewarded with two points because it was a real good team effort.”
Instead, the Flames escaped with the victory.
“We found a way,” Sutter said. “Kipper was obviously huge for us. He played outstanding. Jarome got a big power-play goal. Obviously, to win it in a shootout, it’s a big win.”
NOTES: Columbus RW Derek Dorsett appeared to catch a high stick to the chin from Calgary’s Olli Jokinen late in the second period. He returned in the third. … Several milestones remain close for the Flames: C Brendan Morrison needs a goal for 200 and a point for 600; Sutter needs one more win for 100 as Calgary coach, and Jokinen is three games shy of 1,000. … It was the second of a season-high, seven-game road trip for the Flames while their home arena hosts the IIHF world junior hockey championship. … Columbus G Curtis Sanford, who had beaten Calgary twice this season, was “banged up,” according to Arniel, and sat out.