Columbus 4 Calgary Flames 3

Flames Guess Wrong In Ohio

Rick Charlton

November 25th, 2001

It was a roll of the dice.

And the house always wins.

Flames coach Greg Gilbert gambled his Flames were sufficiently embarrassed by their effort in Buffalo Friday night that they would be motivated to show up if he re-instated struggling back-up netminder Mike Vernon in Columbus, owners of the NHL's second most anemic offense.

But a normal gimme two points went by the wayside as the Blue Jackets filled the net behind Vernon in a 4-3 victory and Calgary dropped to 0-2-2 in its last four with their second consecutive loss.

It was the kind of loss that good teams can't have and a defeat in November that can cost middle of the road teams a playoff spot in April.

The Vernon gamble and eventual loss was particularly devastating considering the Flames now face a murderers row of Detroit, Dallas, Colorado and two with San Jose.

Calgary, a team which must play peerless team defence in order to win, has surrendered 18 goals in its last four games and gave up yet another power play goal, although the Blue Jackets have the worst home ice power play in the league.

With four goals on only 16 shots, Vernon's save percentage continues to sink beyond embarrassing, now a humiliating .817 and a little past the point where it can be blamed on a weak team effort in front of him.

The loss leaves the Flames 13-4-4-2 on the year, good for second overall in the Western Conference and third overall in the NHL. All four regulation time losses this season have been charged to Vernon.

Ron Tugnutt was terrific in net for the Blue Jackets, stopping 29 of 32 shots.

Flames opened scoring at 6:31 of the first period on the power play when Jarome Iginla, who had a 15 game point streak broken against Buffalo, deflected a Derek Morris point shot past Columbus starter Ron Tugnutt. The goal made Iginla the NHL's first 20 goal man this season.

Columbus tied it soon after when Steve Montador lost his stick and allowed a slippery Ray Whitney to walk out in front of Vernon unmolested for an easy marker at 9:21.

Vernon slipped trying to play the puck and Serge Aubin took advantage to slip it by Vernon on the power play at 11:07.

Robert Kron, unmolested in front of the net was fed a pass and backhanded a shot from from 15 feet in front at 3:51 in the second period to put the Blue Jackets up 3-1.

Dean McAmmond scored his sixth of the season seconds later, at 4:28, on a goal-mouth jam after a Toni Lydman point shot to bring Calgary back within one.

But Columbus moved ahead by two goals once again when Mike Sillinger finished off a nifty passing play with ex-Hitmen star Chris Nielsen and rocketed a shot over the shoulder of Vernon at 15:39 of the second.

By the end of the second period, Vernon, a future Hall-of-Famer, had allowed four goals on only 15 shots.

Sillinger came close to putting the Blue Jackets up by three when he pinged a backhand off the post short-handed early in the third.

Jamie Wright, making a strong bid this year to avoid another demotion to the minors, pulled the Flames back within striking distance at 7:46 of the third on his second marker of the season.

From that point on it was all Tugnutt.

Next up is Detroit on Tuesday.

Box Score


1) RON TUGNUTT - In this game, he was everything that Vernon wasn't.

2) RAY WHITNEY - An offensive buzzsaw all day

3) DEAN MCAMMOND - Continues to surpass all expectations.


With just over a minute to go, Denis Gauthier blasted a point shot that was deflected by Wright. But Ron Tugnutt managed to get an arm on the shot and preserve the win.


Ron Petrovicky led the Flames with four hits. Strangely, Denis Gauthier had none. Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, league leader in hyphens in his name, had five hits for the Blue Jackets. . . . . . Mike Sillinger was 53% in the faceoff circle for Columbus although the Blue Jackets were only 45% overall. Marc Savard was 72% for the Flames. . . . .Jeff Cowan beat up Grant Marshall after the Blue Jacket had earlier harassed Flames captain Dave Lowry. Later, Bob Boughner and Blake Sloan had a duke-out.



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