Losing becomes habitual

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- Some habits are had to break.

For the Flames, it's the issue of holding onto leads.

The Columbus Blue Jackets gave them a perfect example of how to erase a deficit and then how to hold on to said lead during the 2-1 defeat handed the Flames last night.

One sleep after Calgary blew a five-goal advantage in Chicago, the Flames wrote a somewhat similar story.

After taking the lead with a strong first period against the Blue Jackets, the Flames reverted back to the form akin to Monday night's meltdown against the Blackhawks.

Sure, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as losing what should be an insurmountable edge, but after the intermission, they were guilty of losing momentum.

Guilty of letting the Blue Jackets dictate the play.

Guilty of surrendering their lead.

"It's a step in the right direction, but we still need more," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter, whose team has now lost three straight. "But it's a step where the guys were in the right frame of mind. Their willingness and effort was there, as far as wanting to do things the right way.

"It's still disappointing to lose a game. It's always disappointing when you lose."

Especially when you are ahead in a rink where it seems you've never had success.

The Flames are a miserable 4-12-1 all-time in Columbus, but appeared to be heading in the right direction.

Through the first period, they were assertive on the forecheck, controlled much of the pace and were playing a gritty game. The reward was Curtis Glencross scoring on a deflection.

But after the break, the hosts took over before the crowd of 13,280.

Former Flame defenceman Anton Stralman scored his first of the season on a five-on-three powerplay to even the score.

Just after the second infraction expired, Kristian Huselius -- another former Flame -- netted the winner, converting a perfect pass from Rick Nash.

Damage done.

"We had a really good road game going. We talked about being really strong defensively, and we were," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "We ran into penalty trouble, that five-on-three, and it's like they got two on that, so that's a lot of momentum.

"Five-on-five, especially with what we're trying to do, we did a lot of things we talked about and hadn't been doing. We needed more than one goal, but our mindset was to be a lot stronger defensively and be better five-on-five.

"Unfortunately, we still weren't good enough."

The push back wasn't enough, although goalie Steve Mason had to come up big in the waning moments.

Calgary falls to 4-2-1 after starting the season on a four-game winning streak.

Columbus (4-1-0) is off to the best start in club history.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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