The Flames and Blue Jackets both got off to hot starts, but while Columbus is getting solid defense and goaltending, Calgary’s defense is costing it games.
The Flames look to avoid losing their third straight when they visit the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
Calgary (4-1-1) won its first four games to match the franchise’s best start, set in 1993-94. Since then, however, the Flames, who allowed three goals in each of the first four victories, have struggled to contain their opponents.
After a 5-2 loss to Dallas on Friday, Calgary blew a five-goal, first-period lead before losing 6-5 in overtime at Chicago on Monday night.
Five different players scored in the first period, including Rene Bourque(notes), who tallied his team-leading fourth goal. The Flames’ onslaught came on just six shots, and they took a 5-1 lead into the first intermission. Calgary fell apart after that though, as goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff(notes), who made 15 saves in the first period, allowed three goals in the second and gave up the game-tying score 4:29 into the third. The game-winner came 26 seconds into overtime.
“We were getting rid of it (the puck) a little too quick, all of us all the way around. When you don’t have composure, that’s the result,” said captain Jarome Iginla(notes), who scored his second of the season.
“It stings all the way through and we’re embarrassed.”
The Flames were expected to improve defensively under new coach Brent Sutter after allowing 248 goals last season. They’ve created a lot of work for their goaltenders so far though, as Kiprusoff and backup Curtis McElhinney(notes) have faced a league-high 203 shots through the first five games.
After extending their winless streak in Chicago to six games - including playoffs - the Flames hope for better luck in Columbus, where they haven’t played well either lately.
The Blue Jackets, who have outscored Calgary 11-1 during three straight home wins in the series, are off to the best start in franchise history - matching the 3-1-0 mark set by the 2003-04 team. They are coming off a 2-0 victory over Phoenix on Saturday as backup Mathieu Garon(notes) stopped 36 shots in his first start with Columbus.
Garon, who played with Edmonton and Pittsburgh last season, signed a free-agent contract with the Blue Jackets in July.
“He came to us because he thinks we’re a young team, (and) we’ve got a chance to win. He wants to be part of something like that,” coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock has counted on his goaltending, led by starter Steve Mason(notes), since his offense has been inconsistent. The Blue Jackets were outshot 36-19 Saturday, managing only two shots in the third period. Rick Nash(notes) scored in the first and R.J. Umberger(notes) added an empty-net goal in the third.
Columbus has been outshot in three of its four games, is 2 for 11 on the power play and has scored more than three goals only once. The Blue Jackets, though, has killed off 17 of 18 short-handed situations, including all seven Saturday. Phoenix had a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities but was unable to capitalize.
After getting a rare game off Saturday, Mason figures to be back in net Tuesday. He was 2-1-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average against the Flames last season.
The Blue Jackets are 12-3-1 all-time against Calgary in Columbus.