Blue Jackets 5 Flames 0
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Steve Mason and the Columbus Blue Jackets wanted to make a statement just in case they meet the Calgary Flames again in the playoffs.
Mason stopped 33 shots for his franchise-record 10th shutout of the season, Jason Williams had two power-play goals, Rick Nash had a career-high four assists, and former Flames forward Kristian Huselius also had four assists in the Blue Jackets’ penalty-filled 5-0 win over Calgary on Thursday night.
“We have a pretty good idea that if we’re in the playoffs this is a team we could be playing, so we wanted to have a good effort. We definitely came forward with it, that’s for sure,” Mason said.
Mason, who broke the team record set last season by Pascal Leclaire, leads the NHL in shutouts and has the most for a rookie since Tony Esposito had 15 for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1969-70.
Calgary, the third-place team in the Western Conference, has dropped two straight. The sixth-place Blue Jackets are 7-1-1 in their past nine as they try to qualify for their first playoff appearance.
“It shows what we have to do to beat a team like that,” Nash said.
“They’re obviously a great team. We know they didn’t play their best, but I thought we had a great game and we played our best.”
The Flames were coming off a 2-0 loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
“We showed some elements of frustration and lack of discipline in certain areas, particularly when it wasn’t going our way,” Calgary coach Mike Keenan said.
The teams combined for 124 minutes — 64 by Columbus — with 110 coming in the second period when there were two fights, two game misconducts and four misconducts.
Manny Malhotra and Williams had goals in the first period, and Raffi Torres and R.J. Umberger gave Columbus a 4-0 lead in the second.
After failing to score through two periods of their previous two games, the Blue Jackets took an early lead when Nash set up Malhotra at 3:43 by breaking down the right side and cutting sharply in the middle of the right circle.
That drew the attention of goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, and Nash feathered a backdoor pass to Malhotra for the easy redirect into the open net.
“We raised our competitive level and got rewarded for it,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.