Opening night can be a funny thing, and it was exactly that on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Your usual elements were in place: a fantastic pre-game buzz around the Arena District, a tremendous pre-game ceremony which included golf's greatest champion, and an energetic high-scoring first period. The Flames, having played last night in Washington, had their sea legs right from the get-go and used their stretch passing to break down the Blue Jackets defensive coverage - but to their credit, the Blue Jackets adjusted in the second period.
All square after 20 minutes, both teams played an uneventful second period but Columbus had its opportunities at even strength. Joey MacDonald was by no means stellar between the pipes for Calgary, but the Blue Jackets struggled all night long to finish their chances and it was one of the main factors behind their 4-3 opening night loss.
Jack Johnson and Marian Gaborik scored first-period goals for the Blue Jackets (a very good sign, especially to get Gaborik going early) and they seemed to settle in after that, but some defensive miscues led to back-to-back Flames goals late in the third period.
Jiri Hudler ripped his second goal of the year into the upper corner with 7:50 to play, and 42 seconds later, Curtis Glencross converted at the side of the net to make it a 4-2 advantage. The Blue Jackets bounced back and chipped away thanks to Artem Anisimov's first goal of the year less than three minutes later, and with plenty of time on the clock, they seemed to have something cooking in the latter stages.
With Bobrovsky on the bench for an extra attacker, Johnson took a questionable interference penalty and nullified the advantage. The Flames salted it away from there and picked up their first win of the season.
The good news? They can't dwell on this one for long, and will head to Long Island to open the Islanders' home slate on Saturday night at the Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Hudler's go-ahead goal (made it a 3-2 game at the time) was a big swing. The Blue Jackets appeared to be in good shape in the minutes leading up to the goal, and one turnover was all it took for the Flames to regain control. It was a rocket of a shot, too, coming down the left wing and scorching it over Bobrovsky's left shoulder.
1. TJ GALIARDI (CGY)
A beautiful breakaway goal, an assist on the Hudler goal and almost 20 minutes of ice time. Not a bad night at the rink for the energetic newcomer for the Flames, who was all over the puck and all over the rink.
2. JACK JOHNSON (CBJ)
In the absence of Fedor Tyutin, the Blue Jackets needed a big effort from their leader on the back end. He scored a sweet power play goal to get Columbus on the board in the first period, logged over 23 minutes and was one of four Jackets to finish with a +1 rating.
3. CURTIS GLENCROSS (CGY)
The former Blue Jacket scored Calgary's biggest goal of the game, a tap-in on a broken play that gave the visitors a two-goal advantage they would not relinquish.