As the Calgary Flames and Columbus Blue Jackets took to the ice on Tuesday, it was a reminder that all games remaining are like playoff rehearsals and a chance to improve their lines and position in the post-season.
Once again, goalie David Rittich played a big part in Calgary’s success last night stopping 31 shots to help lead the Flames to a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Speaking post-game about the remaining games in the regular season, Rittich said.
“It’s nine games to the end, we got three points up so every single point is important. We want to finish first.”
Michael Frolik scored one goal and earned an assist. Also scoring for Calgary was Johnny Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane. Austin Czarnik bagged two assists and Mikael Backlund, Mark Giordano, Mark Jankowski and Derek Ryan each one single assist. The Calgary Flames now sit three points ahead of the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division and are the first team to secure a spot for the playoffs in the Western Conference
Zach Werenski and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored for Columbus with assists awarded to Werenski, Josh Anderson and Artemi Panarin. The Columbus Blue Jackets have earned the last wild card in the Eastern Conference after going one point ahead of Montreal on Tuesday. How they perform over the remaining nine regular season games will be bookmakers such as 888Sport, a respected and recommended online sportsbook will closely be monitoring.
The Blue Jackets failed to make use of scoring opportunities last night, three times hitting the posts in the first and second periods. That saw David Rittich leaning over and giving the posts a kiss. Commenting on the bad luck, Matt Duchene, a forward with the Blue Jackets said,
“Three goalposts. We’re playing good hockey. Just not getting the offence when we need it. We’re finding ways to not score, I guess. It’s frustrating, but you’ve got to keep going and have the faith that it’s going to break. Today we lost some ground, but we’re still in a playoff spot.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets were first to score in the first period at the midway mark after Zach Werenski went on a two on one with Cam Atkinson. Werenski sent a wrist shot past the pads of David Rittich to put the Blue Jackets up 1-0. The Flames Johnny Gaudreau respond three minutes later while in position during a scramble in front on the Blue Jackets net to tie the game.
Mangiapane made it 2-1 with seven seconds remaining in the first and Michael Frolik took only 35 seconds to make it 3-1 early in the second. Oliver Bjorkstrand reduced the gap on a power play in the third sending the puck over Rittich’s shoulder to make it 3-2. However, Calgary’s one goal lead was enough of a cushion to give them the win. Mark Giordano praised Rittich’s efforts in net saying he felt he made the difficult saves look easy. Giordano added,
“That was huge for us. They had a push for sure. They’re a desperate team. A really big, strong team that plays well. Their defencemen get in the rush, so it was an important two points for us tonight and I thought we dug deep.”
Calgary will next welcome the Ottawa Senators on Thursday and the Canucks on Saturday. The Columbus Blue Jackets will play Edmonton on Thursday and the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.