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Flames leave point on the table in shootout loss to Blue Jackets

CALGARY -- Cam Atkinson scored the shootout winner and goaltender Steve Mason made 28 saves in relief as the Columbus Blue Jackets won 2-1 over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.

Battling for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Calgary gained only one point and remains in 11th place.

Defenceman Nikita Nikitin scored for Columbus (23-42-7), which was playing on back-to-back nights. The Blue Jackets lost 4-3 Saturday night in Vancouver.

Matt Stajan scored for Calgary (34-26-13), which snapped a four-game home winning streak.

It was a costly weekend for Calgary's playoff aspirations in the congested Western Conference. The Flames remain in 11th place after dropping two straight, including Friday's 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford was injured early in the first period and did not return.

Atkinson, the Blue Jackets' 22-year-old rookie, scored by faking a shot, then going to his forehand to put the puck past Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.

Jarome Iginla was Calgary's last hope but just like Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, and Curtis Glencros before him, his shot was stopped by Mason.

Calgary tied the game 1-1 at 8:34 of the third when Glencross centred a pass to Stajan, whose quick shot went off Mason's shoulder and in.

It was the seventh goal of the season for Stajan, four of them coming in his last six games.

Stajan has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his last 13 games after picking up just six points in the season's first 39 games.

Up until that point, it looked Mason was going to steal the win for the Blue Jackets in regulation, after starting the game on the bench.

Sanford, who had beaten Calgary twice this year, exited the game with a lower body injury with 5:23 left in the first period after facing two shots. He appeared to injure his leg while involved in a scramble to the side of the net.

Mason was considerably busier right away, turning aside all five shots he faced the remainder of the period.

The second period was more of the same as Calgary held a 16-3 edge in shots but still could not solve Mason.

The only goal of the first two periods came from Nikitin at 13:03 of the first. Bret Lebda slid a pass from the blue-line to Nikitin, who one-timed a hard slapshot past Kiprusoff.

Columbus defenceman James Wisniewski left the game with 12 minutes remaining after a Stajan shot hit him in the mouth.

Calgary's roster had a different look with veteran Lee Stempniak back after missing 21 games with an ankle injury. However, Tanguay left the game immediately after getting elbowed in the head by Jared Boll in the Blue Jackets zone 6:31 into the second period. He did not return for the third.

The incident seemed to spark the Flames, who showed more emotion and greater urgency after that, outshooting Columbus 11-2 over the final 13-plus minutes of that period.

Notes: Columbus wins the season series over the Flames 3-0-1. ... Calgary has lost its last four shootouts and falls to 3-8 on the season. Columbus improves to 4-5 in shootouts. ... Five of Nikitin's 23 points have come against Calgary (two goals, three assists) this season. He was the point leader for both teams in the four-game season series. ... Stajan played in career game No. 600... Flames see their record drop to 7-11-2 against the Central Division


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