The Columbus Blue Jackets have played poorly on the road recently. It seems like they always have struggled in Calgary.
The Blue Jackets could start to turn around their road woes by getting a rare win at the Pengrowth Saddledome when they play the Flames on Saturday.
Columbus (11-10-4) has lost seven of its last eight road games, falling to 4-7-2 away from Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets now enter the finale of a three-game road trip having lost the first two, getting outscored 5-1.
This is their first meeting with the Flames (10-13-3) this season after splitting the 2006-07 series, but losing both visits to Calgary. Columbus has not scored more than two goals in six straight games at the Pengrowth Saddledome, losing five of them, and is 3-8-0 there since winning its first visit in 2000.
Three of those defeats were by shutout, something the Blue Jackets hadn’t suffered all season until running into a red-hot Roberto Luongo on Thursday in a 2-0 loss at Vancouver.
“I told the players at the start of the game if you’re going to beat a goalie like (Luongo) you have to outwork him and we went soft on three obvious goals,” Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We didn’t put it through the back of the net. He came back and made the save and that’s the difference in the game.”
Columbus’ goaltending situation is uncertain with Pascal Leclaire questionable for Saturday’s contest with a slight groin pull. Leclaire, who was hurt in Monday’s loss at Edmonton, sat out Thursday’s game and the team said it will not rush his return.
Leclaire is 10-5-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average and a single-season franchise record of six shutouts - most in the NHL - in 18 appearances. Fredrik Norrena started Thursday and made 19 saves for Columbus, which has lost five of seven overall.
Calgary, meanwhile, has lost three straight and is coming off a 4-10-0 November. The Flames opened a four-game homestand with a 4-1 loss to Anaheim on Thursday.
They are among the highest-scoring teams in the Western Conference with 70 goals, but have only four during this three-game skid. Alex Tanguay’s power-play goal Thursday was just Calgary’s third in its last 35 chances with the man advantage.
“It’s a critical time for us. We’re three games under .500, we’re playing teams that we have to catch to make the playoffs,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who assisted on Tanguay’s goal. “We have to find ways to win and we have to do it now and get ourselves back in this playoff hunt. It’s time.”
Iginla has gone a season-high four straight games without scoring but has six assists in that span. He leads Calgary with 13 goals and 21 assists.
Iginla has 13 goals and 13 assists in 24 career meetings with Columbus.