SUN Hockey Pool

Ugly goal a beauty

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

Aesthetically pleasing, it wasn't. But the goal -- at least in the eyes of Marcus Nilson -- was a masterpiece.

The Flames forward's first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner as Calgary downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 last night at the Saddledome. The victory gives the Flames their first two-game win streak of the young season.

"On the shot, (Jackets goalie Marc Denis) tried to bat it out of the air. It hit me, went back to his helmet and hit me again," Nilson said, recounting his tally midway through the third period.

With a self-deprecating grin, he added: "It was pretty nice."

Hey, they can't all be coast-to-coast rushes or top-corner bullets but they all count the same.

Especially since earning a win, picture perfect or not, is all that matters for the Flames, who have pulled to within one victory of the .500 mark (6-7-2).

"It was a big game for us," Nilson said. "We needed that two points."

The Flames could have made collecting the deuce a lot easier had they been able to find the mark on the powerplay.

A steady parade of Blue Jackets to the sin bin during the opening two periods gave the Flames multiple opportunities to salt away the game early but they failed miserably.

The Flames failed to take advantage of eight minutes and 34 seconds of powerplay time in the first period and another 3:20 in the middle frame.

To make matters worse, they entered the final frame down a goal thanks to David Vyborny's tally less than a minute into the second period.

"We had a lot of chances that didn't go in, a lot of powerplays," Nilson said.

"I thought their penalty killing did a hell of a job forcing our guys. It was a little nervous going into the third. We needed the game.

"It feels good now."

The Flames took control of the game after adhering to the age-old hockey philosophy: Drive to the net.

That's exactly what Steve Reinprecht did, snapping his own scoring slump and rejuvenating his teammates early in the final frame.

Denis lost his goal stick and tried using one passed to him by a teammate -- perhaps explaining why he failed to cleanly handle a long shot by Nilson.

Reinprecht raced for the fat rebound, kicked the puck to his stick at full speed and neatly slipped it past Denis.

Nilson's heroics came shortly after to the delight of the 19,289 who filled the Saddledome -- a goal that needed video review to confirm the puck indeed crossed the line before the net was driven off its moorings.

"It's a few games into the year and I have no goals, so it's nice to score," Nilson said. "Even nicer it happens at that time and we win off it."

Now the Flames head into a two-game home series against Vancouver -- beginning Saturday night -- on a high from claiming their first comeback victory of the campaign.

Miikka Kiprusoff, who has surrendered only six goals in as many home games, stopped 16 shots to garner the win.

Denis stopped 29 shots for the Blue Jackets, who fall to 5-10-0, and now face even tougher times with rising star Rick Nash out indefinitely due to a knee injury sustained late in the game.


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