Blue Jackets vs. Flames Preview
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) - The Columbus Blue Jackets were outstanding on the road not too long ago before being badly outplayed of late.
They'll try to end a three-game road slide Monday night in the opener of a three-game trip against the Calgary Flames, who traditionally dominate Columbus at home.
Columbus (16-11-1) began 8-1-0 on the road before getting outscored 13-3 during the last three games. Those defeats are part of a 2-4-1 stretch for the Blue Jackets, who were vying for the Western Conference lead before the skid began Nov. 26.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Flames –128 money line favorites for Monday's game against the Blue Jackets. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 88% of more than 175 bets for this game have been placed on the Blue Jackets +118.
Trends show Calgary is 5-4 ATS versus Columbus over the past three seasons.
The club feels it may have some momentum after Rick Nash scored twice in the third period of Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Rangers. The go-ahead goal came with just over 4 minutes left when he beat Henrik Lundqvist with a shot from the right corner.
"Rick made two great plays that goal-scorers make,'' coach Scott Arniel said. "I knew he was a great player, but his work ethic and his compete (are great). I've noticed that he gets real upset when we don't win and don't play the way we can.''
Steve Mason made 32 saves for his first win since Nov. 22. He had been 0-3-1 with a 3.67 goals-against average over his previous four starts.
"Obviously this was a big game for us," Mason said. "We were on a bit of a skid. Hopefully this will get us out of this one."
Mason is 3-3-2 with a 2.95 goals-against average in eight career starts against Calgary (12-15-3). Backup Mathieu Garon could be a better choice since he is 8-4-0 with a 2.17 GAA in 12 starts versus the Flames.
Columbus won the first road game in franchise history at Calgary and also won in its last visit, 3-2 on Jan. 8. In between, the Blue Jackets are 4-11-1 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Miikka Kiprusoff is 9-0-2 with a 1.70 GAA in 11 lifetime home starts against the Blue Jackets. Backup Henrik Karlsson made 20 saves in his NHL debut in a 6-2 win at Columbus on Oct. 22.
Rene Bourque had a hat trick and Jarome Iginla three assists in that start for Karlsson. The Flames would certainly like to see such production now, given the way their offense has struggled.
Calgary has scored three or fewer goals in 10 of its last 11 games, including Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss at Anaheim. Olli Jokinen and David Moss scored in the third period as the Flames rallied from a two-goal deficit.
"Man for man, from our goalie right on out to our defense to our forwards, everyone played hard. That's the effort we needed to have,'' coach Brent Sutter said. "We had quality scoring chances. We took pucks to the net and everybody was engaged in the game right from the opening faceoff. We probably deserve better. But when you get to a shootout, anything can happen.''
Iginla assisted on both goals to extend his point streak to seven games. He's got eight points in his last four games against the Blue Jackets.
Nash has one point in his last four road games after amassing eight over his previous five.