Monday, March 19, 2012
Sports News

Atkinson helps Blue Jackets top Flames 2-1 in SO

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[March 19, 2012]  CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Cam Atkinson scored the shootout winner and Steve Mason made 28 saves after coming in for an injured Curtis Sanford as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Sunday night.

Nikita Nikitin scored for Columbus, which was playing on back-to-back nights. The Blue Jackets lost 4-3 Saturday night in Vancouver.

Matt Stajan scored for Calgary (34-26-13), which snapped a four-game home winning streak.

It was a costly weekend for Calgary's playoff aspirations in the congested Western Conference. The Flames remained in 11th place after dropping two straight, including Friday's 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

Sanford was hurt early in the first period and did not return.

Atkinson, the Blue Jackets' 22-year-old rookie, scored by faking a shot, then going to his forehand to put the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff.

Jarome Iginla was Calgary's last hope but -- just like Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencros before him -- his shot was stopped by Mason.

Calgary tied it 1-1 at 8:34 of the third when Glencross centered a pass to Stajan, whose quick shot went off Mason's shoulder and in. It was the seventh goal of the season for Stajan, four of them coming in his last six games.

Stajan has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his last 13 games after picking up just six points in the season's first 39 games.

Up until that point, it looked as though Mason was going to steal the win for the Blue Jackets in regulation, after starting the game on the bench.

Sanford, who had beaten Calgary twice this year, exited the game with a lower-body injury with 5:23 left in the first period after facing two shots. He appeared to injure a leg while involved in a scramble to the side of the net.

Mason was considerably busier right away, turning aside all five shots he faced the remainder of the period.

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The second period was more of the same as Calgary held a 16-3 edge in shots, but still could not solve Mason.

The only goal of the first two periods came from Nikitin at 13:03 of the first. Bret Lebda slid a pass from the blue line to Nikitin, who one-timed a hard slap shot past Kiprusoff.

Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski left the game with 12 minutes remaining after a Stajan shot hit him in the mouth.

Calgary's roster had a different look with veteran Lee Stempniak back after missing 21 games with an ankle injury. However, Tanguay left immediately after getting elbowed in the head by Jared Boll in the Blue Jackets zone 6:31 into the second period.

That seemed to spark the Flames, who showed more emotion and greater urgency after that, outshooting Columbus 11-2 over the final 13-plus minutes of that period.

NOTES: Columbus won the season series over the Flames 3-0-1. ... Calgary has lost its last four shootouts and fell to 3-8 on the season. Columbus improved to 4-5 in shootouts. ... Five of Nikitin's 23 points have come against Calgary (two goals, three assists) this season. He was the points leader for both teams in the four-game season series. ... Stajan played in career game No. 600.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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