Game 25 Recap: Stealing Points

Nikita Nikitin's late goal helped spark the Jackets to a come-from-behind victory over the Flames. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I'll be blunt- this game was a total bore until the last few minutes of regulation. Just when I thought the Jackets were out of it, Nikita Nikitin blasted a shot from the point to pull within a goal. Seconds later, Rick Nash tied it up on a feed from Nikitin. Overtime solved nothing, and Curtis Sanford shut the door in the shootout to steal two points from the Calgary Flames.

Read on to see how it all broke down...

First Period

The game started with both teams playing a safe, conservative, dare I say boring, style. There were few legitimate chances either way.

Jared Boll and Tim Jackman tried to give their teams a boost by dropping the gloves. I'll always remember Jackman as one of the guys who started the Columbus Second Rounder Curse.

Maybe it was the cringe-worthy audio of the Sportsnet broadcast I was forced to watch on Center Ice, or the fact that both teams were still getting their legs under them, but the first half of the opening period was brutal.

That was until the 5:23 mark. Nikita Nikitin blasted a shot on net, with the rebound dropping to the ice in front of Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Antoine Vermette found the puck and slid into the back of the net.

1-0 Jackets- Vermette (Nikitin, Pahlsson)

Vermette has been nothing short of impressive since moving to the wing on the checking line. Not only has his production counter-intuitively increased, but his overall game has been stellar. To that point in the game, his line was seeing a ton of ice, and making the most of it.

Curtis Sanford wasn't really tested until midway through the first. The Flames fired a high shot, but Sanford got the body in front of it. The Flames failed to follow up on the rebound, but that shot started a sequence where the Flames started to pour it on.

At about the 9:15 mark, John Moore was leveled by Cory Sarich. If there was an award for getting crunched with the most highlight reel hits, Moore would win hands down. I have seen that poor guy get smacked around more than any other Jacket this year.

At 6:58, after a failed clear by Rick Nash, Lee Stempniak put the puck past Sanford to tie the game. Jay Bouwmeester fired the puck wide, and with Sanford out of position Stempniak turned and fired through traffic, with the puck sliding five-hole on the Columbus 'tender.

1-1- Stempniak (Bouwmeester, Comeau)

The play went back and forth, with few quality chances either way. With a few minutes left in the period, Jarome Iginla threw a pass cross-ice, but it was intercepted by Nash. Nash fed Vinny Prospal, who cycled the puck to Jeff Carter. Carter threw the puck in front, but nobody was there to bury it. The Flames then turned the other way, with a two-on-one chance. Luckily for the Jackets, Olli Jokinen misfired his "tac".

With 2:11 left in the period the Jackets went to the powerplay. They were unable to get properly set up, and failed to score.

End of the first, 1-1.

Second Period

At 1:18 of the second, Nash and Flames defenseman Chris Butler were each sent off for roughing, putting the teams four-on-four. Calgary dominated this stretch, with Columbus unable to get out of their zone.

Calgary continued to pressure the Jackets, but couldn't unleash any quality shots.

At 4:35, Marc Methot went off for interference. The Flames powerplay was disjointed, and couldn't set up whatsoever. The Columbus penalty kill was not the reason for this.

Like the first period, the second period was a total bore. There were very few moments of excitement, and you could hear a pin drop inside the Saddledome.

The Jackets got a great chance when at 6:48 Scott Hannan went to the box. Due to some bad passing and some tenaciousness on behalf of the Flames penalty killers, the Jackets failed to convert.

Late in the second, the Flames turned it on. Sanford was forced to make two excellent glove saves, but in the last minute, Rene Bourque scored for the Flames to take the lead. Bourque acquired the puck off a Mark Letestu turnover.

2-1 Flames- Bourque (Tanguay, Butler)

End of the second, 2-1 Flames.

Third Period

There was little action until the 3:30 mark of the third, when Blake Comeau high-sticked James Wisniewski. The Jackets went up a man, but only had one quality chance. As Comeau stepped back on to the ice, he intercepted a weak pass to the point by Vinny Prospal, and took off up-ice. After shaking off a defender, he wired the puck on-net, going off of Wisniewski's side, behind Sanford.

3-1 Flames- Comeau (Unassisted)

The newly formed line of Nash, Letestu and Johansen came out with some jump when play resumed. Nash and Johansen looked great cycling the puck together, it will be interesting to see if that line will continue to play together in the future.

The Flames then proceeded to take over. They dominated play for a bulk of the remaining time, but with under seven minutes left in the game, R.J. Umberger took the puck hard to the net, forcing Matt Stajan to hook him. Stajan went to the box.

On the powerplay, the Jackets were able to set up, with Wisniewski firing a couple of bombs on Kiprusoff. Kiprusoff stood tall however, shutting the door and keeping the Jackets O-fer on the man advantage.

Seconds later however, Nikitin scored his first goal of the season, one-timing a pass from Vinny Prospal. The goal was Nikki 6's first of the season.

3-2 Jackets- Nikitin (Prospal, MacKenzie)

The goal brought some life to the Jackets. With slightly over a minute left, Sanford was pulled, and with the net empty, Nikitin was at it again, this time firing a slap-pass to Rick Nash, who was parked at the side of the net. Nash redirected the puck perfectly to tie the game.

3-3- Nash (Nikitin, Wisniewski)

End of regulation, 3-3.

Overtime Period

Both teams started quickly, trading chances. Fedor Tyutin made a nice play to shut down a Calgary rush, then fed the puck to Rick Nash for a scoring chance. Nash put the puck just wide, however.

With 23 seconds left, the Flames came close, with a nine-man pileup in the Columbus net. The ref lost sight, and blew the play dead. Both goaltenders stood on their head in the free hockey period.

End of Overtime: 3-3.

Shootout

Columbus Shoots First.

Jeff Carter: SAVE
Alex Tanguay: SAVE
Fedor Tyutin: SAVE
Lee Stempniak: SAVE
Rick Nash: GOAL
Rene Bourque: SAVE

Final Score: 4-3 (SO)

Standard Bearers:

  • Antoine Vermette- scored for the Jackets, and continues a run of hot play.
  • Rick Nash- Tied the game, and won it in the shootout. Was making things happen all night.
  • Nikita Nikitin- Was in on both late game goals which allowed the Jackets to tie the game up. Was a real factor throughout the game.
  • Curtis Sanford- Stood tall in the shootout, blanking the Flames.
  • T.J. Brodie- The kid looked great for the Flames.
  • Blake Comeau- The new guy in Calgary had a great game.

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • James Wisniewski- Wiz had a handful of turnovers, and wasn't much of a factor, outside of drawing a penalty.
  • Jeff Carter- Someone should call his folks. The guy has been missing for a while.
  • Cody Bass- I know there's not a lot expected of him, but he wasn't effective tonight. Given the hooplah surrounding Brassard, Bass' subpar night adds fuel to the fire.

See you tomorrow night, when the Jackets take on the Oilers.

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