Blue Christmas for Flames

Flames forward Ales Kotalik braces for a hit from Blue Jackets defenceman Jan Hejda during first...

Flames forward Ales Kotalik braces for a hit from Blue Jackets defenceman Jan Hejda during first period action in Columbus on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Matt Sullivan)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

COLUMBUS -- With the Columbus Blue Jackets net wide open and the puck on his stick, Ales Kotalik was all set to tie the game.

Then the stick snapped in two as he leaned into his shot.

The shattered composite he tossed disgustedly into the boards lay as a symbol of the Calgary Flames offence right now.

Nothing is going right.

With another lone-goal game contributing to a third straight loss -- this time a 3-1 decision Tuesday night against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena -- the Flames have little in the way of explanation.

"I don't know how to call it," Kotalik said from his stall in the visitors' room. "Just when you get an open net and you knew you get everything on a shot, the stick breaks in half.

"You have a breakaway whistled down," continued Kotalik, referring to the Robyn Regehr fight that ended his rush at the other end. "The rebound of Glennie's (Curtis Glencross) post (shot) just, like, jumps over your stick when you're trying to just jam it home. Those kind of things -- it just happens."

It's luck, suggested Glencross, who in addition to hitting the post, was also stoned by Jackets goaltender Mathieu Garon on a two-on-one shorthanded rush with Flames teammate David Moss.

But it's not good luck.

Of course, the Flames know they have to start creating their own to start winning games -- or at least start scoring at more than a goal-per-game clip.

"For myself in the last two games, I should have three or four goals," said Glencross, who's had plenty of opportunities since returning from a two-game banishment for ineffective play. "Give credit to Garon -- he played well tonight, and (Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas) Backstrom played well (Monday) night, but I've got to find a way to bury them chances.

"It's frustrating, because the chances are there, and it's not going in for us."

There's plenty they can do about it.

The chances come when the team is playing according to the code set by head coach Brent Sutter.

Captain Jarome Iginla sitting in park at the opposition blueline while his linemates are trying to start a rush is another of those signs of when the team is getting out of touch with what works.

"It's a situation where you've got to continue to direct more pucks at net and have more guys going to the net," Sutter said. "At times, we get caught where we get away from that. When we do that, our quality scoring chances go down.

"When we got back to our game at different times we controlled the play."

But at a time when wins are this important to the flailing franchise, the lack of consistency is contributing to the goal drought that's costing the club points in the NHL standings.

"Scoring one goal ... it makes it tough," Sutter said.

Flames defenceman Mark Giordano would love to just get a lead one of these days.

"It seems like we're coming from behind all the time," Giordano said after the loss to a Blue Jackets team that hadn't had a lead of any kind for a span of 252:33 minutes before Jakub Voracek opened the scoring 5:14 into the game.

Jared Boll got a second one past Flames goalie Henrik Karlsson in the second period before Olli Jokinen's powerplay goal cut the lead in half.

Rostislav Klesla's empty-netter in the final minute finished the Flames off.

"It's tough," Giordano said of playing from behind. "You've got to take more chances. They sit back. Goalie makes a big save for them, and that's the difference.

"We have to find a way to come out of the gates and get the lead."

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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