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COLUMBUS Blue Jackets jell to break slump


Published: Sat, March 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


Jason Chimera's career-high 15th goal gave Columbus a 3-2 victory.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Out of the playoff picture, the Columbus Blue Jackets' goal is to play with character. A trait they've had trouble finding lately.
Jason Chimera scored his career-high 15th goal with 2:47 left to help the Blue Jackets end a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
Manny Malhotra and Nikolai Zherdev also scored for Columbus, which had lost three in a row at home.
"[Calgary] comes out every night and brings it," said the Blue Jackets' Adam Foote, who tied a career high with three assists. "If we come with that character every night we will have a chance to win every night."
Chuck Kobasew and Daymond Langkow scored for Northwest Division-leading Calgary.
"It was a pretty physical game and they probably had the edge there," Calgary's Jarome Iginla conceded. "In a one-goal game, they had the edge. They got the big goal late. It doesn't feel good on our part, that's for sure."
The winning goal
On the winning goal, Chimera stuffed home a loose puck after Trevor Letowski knocked it off Roman Hamrlik's stick near the Calgary goal.
"Letowski threw it in front of the net and it bounced off Kipper [goalie Miikka Kiprusoff] and kind of laid there in the crease," Chimera said. "I just kind of batted it home. It was nice to see the puck just laying there for you."
Calgary scored at 1:41 of the first period on Kobasew's power-play goal -- his 19th.
Columbus tied it early in the second period. Calgary's Robyn Regehr gloved a high puck just inside the Flames' blue line, but Malhotra stole the puck and chipped it over goalie Miikka Kiprusoff at 2:47 while sliding on his chest.
"I dove trying to get something on it before [Kiprusoff] could poke it away," Malhotra said.
Three minutes later, tempers flared behind the Calgary net when captains Foote and Iginla -- both members of Team Canada during the Olympics -- nearly fought.
"I like the way they played with a lot of character tonight," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "We really battled hard. We have 12 games left and I expect this kind of effort in every one of them."
Nash brings crowd to its feet
At the 5-minute mark, Rick Nash brought the home crowd to its feet, back-checking deep into the Columbus zone to thwart a Flames' breakaway. He then carried the puck the length of the ice and nearly beat Kiprusoff.
Moments later, Regehr almost atoned for his earlier mistake, stepping out of the penalty box into a breakaway, but Marc Denis made the save.
The Flames recaptured the lead on Langkow's 21st of the season at 6:26, a redirection from the slot.
"I think we worked and did everything we wanted to," Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said. "In the end they had a little bit more in the tank."
The Blue Jackets quickly responded, with Zherdev tipping home Foote's shot from the blue line a minute later to tie it. The goal was Zherdev's 26th of the season.
Penalties mounted the rest of the period with Calgary failing to convert on a 31-second, two-man advantage. After Foote's boarding penalty on Iginla expired at 15:20, Foote also skated immediately into a breakaway, but was stopped by Kiprusoff.


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