Flames 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT): Missed opportunity
Momentum slips away in second period; winnable game ends in loss
R.J. Umberger, middle right, and Derek Dorsett get caught up in a scramble in front of the net.
The Blue Jackets won’t play too many games this season against teams that have the same modest level of skill. They won’t face too many goaltenders with as little NHL experience as Leland Irving.
But presented with such an opportunity last night against the Calgary Flames, and in deep need of salvaging a six-game homestand, the Blue Jackets fell prey to their own aggravating tendencies. The Jackets’ recurring bout with narcolepsy flared up again in the second period, when they lost their grip on a fast start, and they went on to lose 4-3 in overtime before 10,484 fans in Nationwide Arena.
“I tried not to pump their tires after the first period,” coach Todd Richards said. “We have to figure it out. For 20 minutes, it’s good. But then we lose our game, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s not for one shift or two shifts; it’s an extended period of time.”
Matt Calvert, Mark Letestu and Vinny Prospal scored for the Blue Jackets, who are just 1-2-1 during the homestand. They came back from 1-0 and 3-2 down to force the extra period, but this was not celebrated as a good point in the standings.
“It’s good we keep fighting back from behind, but we have to be able to do it for 60 minutes,” right winger Derek Dorsett said. “That’s part of being a professional, being able to do your job and play your role for 60 minutes.”
The Blue Jackets led 2-1 at 9:37 of the first period. Calvert snapped a 37-game streak without a goal at 4:44 to tie the score at 1, and Letestu scored a power-play goal off a slick pass from Derick Brassard nearly five minutes later. It sure looked like Irving, making his eighth NHL start, was on the ropes. By extension, so were the Flames.
“If we had come out in the second and played another good 20, maybe we break their will,” Letestu said.
Instead, the Flames leaned on the Blue Jackets, shoveling the puck deep and keeping it in the zone for long stretches. The Flames pulled even on Mikael Backlund’s goal at 13:06, and the game was in their grip.
“It’s a tough game when they’re breathing down your neck and you’re not making plays to get it out of the zone,” Letestu said.
It wasn’t until the Flames went up 3-2 on Lee Stempniak’s power-play goal at 8:33 of the third that the Blue Jackets awakened.
Prospal’s third goal of the season, at 11:00, tied the score again. The Blue Jackets had a chance late when they gained a power play with 1:50 remaining when Stempniak dragged down Calvert to spoil a 2-on-1 rush. But they generated very little. Brassard, maybe the Jackets’ most skilled player, was benched by Richards at that point.
“He made a play on the first (power-play) goal,” Richards said. “But the way the game was going, the way the third period went, I went a different way.”
Alex Tanguay ended the game only 1:07 into overtime with a slap shot from the right circle.
Irving finished with 26 saves for his second NHL win.