CALGARY – Todd Bertuzzi made a triumphant return to the Calgary Flames lineup on Wednesday night.
Sidelined the past five games due to a hip flexor, the veteran winger scored the game-winning goal in a shootout as the Calgary Flames overcame four deficits to win 5-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“I enjoy being in that situation and it was nice to get the nod and I was pretty happy when it went in,” said Bertuzzi, who entered the game with four goals in his past nine games after going 19 games without a goal.
Mike Cammalleri continued his red-hot scoring for the Flames with two goals, including the tying goal at 12:35 of the third period.
“He won the game for us, I’d call that an impact. What a great move,” said Cammalleri about Bertuzzi’s winning goal. “He played really well, he was skating well. He obviously fills a big role in our line-up and it’s very nice to have him back”.
After Cammalleri and Jarome Iginla were both stopped by Steve Mason on the Flames first two shootout attempts, Bertuzzi put Calgary ahead on a deke as he backhanded the puck over the sprawled Columbus goaltender.
Miikka Kiprusoff clinched the victory turning aside Jakub Voracek’s deke attempt, just like he did the earlier attempts by Jason Williams and Rick Nash, who also tried to deke rather than shoot.
“It was a good game. They’re a good team, there’s a reason they’re in the top of the standings. We held in there for a long time but they came out on top,” said Nash.
Iginla and David Moss also scored for Calgary (28-14-4). The Flames head into a seven-day layoff for the NHL all-star break as the Northwest Division leader. Calgary moved nine points up on both the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers.
R.J. Umberger, with two goals, and Voracek also scored for Columbus (22-20-5). Manny Malhotra had two assists to extend his career-high scoring streak to seven games (two goals, seven assists).
The Blue Jackets finish up 1-0-2 in their three-game road trip through Western Canada. Tuesday night was an equally tough loss blowing a late lead in a 4-3 overtime loss in Edmonton.
“That’s something we’ve got to fix,” said Nash. “We’ve taken a big step just being in the playoff race this year. We have never really been in this position as a franchise and games like these are things that a young team has to learn.”
Cammalleri’s tying goal came when pressure from Iginla forced Raffi Torres to turn the puck over at the Columbus blue-line. The Flames leading goal scorer collected the loose puck, moved into the slot and ripped his 22nd goal over Mason’s shoulder.
Cammalleri has eight goals and two assists during a six-game points streak.
“I can’t emphasize how important these two points were for us as far as our psyche goes going into the break,” said Cammalleri. “With the two losses before it, let’s not sugar-coat it, it really would have sucked if we had lost tonight and it would have felt ugly going into the break.”
Nash’s short-handed goal on a breakaway at 2:41 of the third had given the Blue Jackets their fourth lead of the night.
Columbus led 2-1 late in the second period when three goals in a frantic 50 second stretch sent the game to the intermission tied 3-3.
After Cammalleri tied it at 17:40, the Blue Jackets took just 10 seconds to regain the lead with Voracek one-timing a pass from Jason Williams.
The Flames tied it again 3-3 when Moss scored on a wrap-around.
As exciting as the final moments of the second period were, the entire first period was even more eventful as the sell-out crowd of 19,289 at the Pengrowth Saddledome was thoroughly entertained.
In the opening 20 minutes, there were three goals, Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf was thrown out of the game for boarding, there were numerous skirmishes, some terrific goaltending at both ends, stretches of both 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 hockey, and Columbus had a lengthy two-man advantage but couldn’t beat Kiprusoff.
With Columbus up 1-0, Calgary lost the services of Phaneuf five minutes later when he pushed Umberger from behind sending him flying head-first into the glass.
Phaneuf was given a game misconduct on the play.
A series of penalties that followed resulted in a rare dose of three-on-three hockey and that would turn out to be the tonic for Iginla who one-timed Adrian Aucoin’s pass at 9:11 to tie the game 1-1. It was Iginla’s first goal in nine games.
However, Umberger restored the Blue Jackets lead 31 seconds later.
“For being undermanned, we were minus six players tonight, I thought we really cowboyed up and really gutted it out tonight and played a great game,” said Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock.
Notes: Columbus LW Kristian Huselius (wrist) did not play. He has yet to play against his former team having also missed the first meeting between the two clubs due to injury… Iginla’s goal was Calgary’s first 3-on-3 goal since Derek Morris scored against Boston on March 12, 1998…. Columbus only plays once on the road over the next 23 days. Seven of its next eight games are at Nationwide Arena… Calgary is 7-0-2 in its last nine home games against the Blue Jackets.