Dillon Dube’s overtime winner for the Calgary Flames capped Johnny Gaudreau’s eventful return to the Saddledome on Monday.
Dube ended Calgary’s seesaw battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets at 2:25 of overtime for a 4–3 win.
Gaudreau had two assists, missed a penalty kick and was constantly criticized by Flames fans in his first game in Calgary since leaving for Columbus as an unrestricted free agent last July.
Calgary led 2-0 and 3-2 in the second half, but the Blue Jackets were not going to go easy.
Gaudreau tangled with Flames defender Noah Hanifin and went down in the Calgary zone in overtime, opening a path for Andrew Mangiapane to feed Dube in a two-on-one for the winner.
Mangiapane had a goal and two assists, and Walker Duehr and Nazem Kadri also scored for the Flames (23-16-9).
CLOCK | Flames beat Blue Jackets with Dube’s OT winner:
Calgary goaltender Dan Vladar held down 21 saves for his second win in as many starts, while his Columbus counterpart Joonas Korpisalo had 45 saves in the loss.
Patrik Laine led the Blue Jackets (14-31-2) with a goal and two assists. Kirill Marchenko and Boone Jenner also scored for Columbus, which sits at the bottom of the NHL standings.
Gaudreau, who ranks fifth all-time in Flames franchise points with 609, was greeted with jeers and derisive chants of “John-ny” the moment he stepped onto the ice.
CLOCK | Gaudreau misses a penalty kick on the return to Calgary:
“We knew it was going to be that kind of environment. Johnny had a great game,” Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen said. “The guys struggled. We had some issues with the handling of the puck, for sure.”
Gaudreau received a penalty kick five minutes into the first period when Calgary defenseman MacKenzie Weegar hooked him on a breakaway.
A wave of boos followed the left winger’s approach to the net, and intensified when he fired the puck high trying to catch the top corner of the net.
The video tribute to Gaudreau puts many on their feet
Minutes later, a video tribute brought many of the 17,697 in attendance to their feet to recognize Gaudreau’s eight seasons of service at Flames, but that goodwill was short-lived.
“I think that shows what a good player he was and how important he was to this organization, because you don’t get a reaction like that if you’re not that important,” Dube said.
The Blue Jackets were called by too many men with just over six minutes left in regulation, but Calgary did not convert the lead into a go-ahead goal.
“I’ll let you look at it. If you tell me that’s too many men, I’ll buy you lunch,” Larsen said.
Jenner tied the score 3-3 at 4:34 of the third period when she opted to shoot in a two-on-one with Gaudreau.
Trailing 2–0, Columbus tied the game midway through the second period with two power play goals in a span of 49 seconds before Mangiapane pushed Calgary again at 16:17.
The Blue Jackets’ power play showcased Gaudreau’s puck distribution skills. He passed the puck to Laine, who knelt down to squeeze in a shot from Vladar at 9:53 of the second period.
So many memories over the years, on and off the ice.
Welcome back, Johnny. pic.twitter.com/FAWOZe6xMm
Marchenko scored when he tore Gaudreau’s cross pass off Vladar’s glove at 9:04.
Calgary’s Milan Lucic and Blue Jackets winger Mathieu Olivier traded blows when the score was tied 2-2.
“The Looch fight surely got us back to the shape we needed to be,” Dube said.
Kadri’s team-leading 19th goal put Calgary up 2–0 at 1:32 of the second period. The Flames’ celebration of Duehr’s goal at 16:18 of the first half was delayed.
His single shot just above the faceoff spot deflected off the inside of Korpisalo’s bag so fast that it was unclear where the puck was until officials fished it out from the bottom of the net.
Duehr, who was called up by the AHL’s Wranglers for the first time this season on Jan. 7, has two goals in six games.
Flames defenseman Chris Tanev left the game midway through the first period after a collision in the neutral zone.
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The Flames have earned at least one point in Vladar’s last 12 starts, going 9-0-3 since Nov. 29. That’s the longest active scoring streak this season among NHL goaltenders.
The Blue Jackets have played six rookies in their last 16 games with half a dozen regulars on injured reserve, including Jakob Voracek (concussion) and Zach Werenski (labral tear) in the offseason.
The Flames are at home against Chicago (14-27-4) on Thursday and on the road on Friday against the Seattle Kraken before their All-Star break.
Columbus continues a four-game Western road trip on Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers. The Blue Jackets are 3-16-1 on the road this season.