Hat's more like it!

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- The hard hat was a glistening gold, a lot more upscale than the previous version.

Thanks to the guy wearing it, though, the symbolism remained the same.

It doesn't matter whether the hard hat is green and dust-covered -- like the one the Calgary Flames made famous all the way to the Stanley Cup final last year -- or a splashy new variation unveiled last night, there was something fitting about Stephane Yelle having the honours after last night's 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets.

The hard hat's new gold colour "must be for the yellow on the jersey," said Yelle.

The old green hard hat is now retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The decision for such a flashy version this time around is to serve as a reminder of how a gritty performance can be golden.

Cue a textbook performance from Yelle and linemates Darren McCarty and Marcus Nilson, much to the delight of Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.

"You can't measure what they've got, put it that way," said Sutter. "They don't get much credit for it.

"This game is pretty much what you're going to see from that line. It's not going to matter who they play against. Don't forget Yelle and McCarty are winners, big time, and they know how to play in any situation."

That showed in spades all night before the sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena.

The offensive heroes may be Shean Donovan, who opened the scoring late in the first period, and Daymond Langkow, author of the game-winner early in the third, but it was Sutter's grinding trio that made the difference.

Time and time again, they forechecked the Blue Jackets defence corps into submission, ensuring the lines more known for their skill were given extra space with which to work.

It was the game plan and a perfect example how the Flames must play to reach the lofty heights expected of them.

"The first game was a really good wake-up call," said captain Jarome Iginla. "Even though people are picking us to be a lot better than the last time, or whatever, we're not the most talented team and still have to compete hard and make it as tough for them.

"Tonight was an example of what you'll see in a lot of wins."

For good measure, McCarty tallied the insurance goal with 24.1 seconds remaining on the clock.

If you're looking for a pretty win, this wasn't it but it was the kind of victory everyone inside the Flames dressing room expected.

"We had a better start than we did in Minnesota, worked hard and kept chipping away at it," Yelle said.

"You'd like to put them away sooner but some nights it just won't happen, so you've just got to keep going, sticking to the plan and program and that's how you get a win."

Sutter, whose team will try to move above the .500 mark tomorrow afternoon when it meets the Detroit Red Wings, concurred.

"The difference from this to the Minnesota game was we were able in the first four or five minutes to generate some forecheck, get the puck deep and be able to control it. That can really swing it," he said. "Last game, when we started Langkow's line, we turned the puck over in the first shift, played in our zone and that got Minnesota going."

Trevor Letowski had the lone goal for the winless Blue Jackets.

Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 19 shots sent his way, while Marc Denis blocked 35 of 38.

- - -

CALAGRY FLAMES: 3

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: 1


Videos

Photos