COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Calgary coach Bob Hartley credited Sam Bennett’s scoring binge on the rookie standout’s strong work ethic.
Bennett scored twice to give him eight goals in his last five games, Johnny Gaudreau had the tiebreaking goal in the third period, and the Flames beat the league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 Thursday night.
“There’s lots of confidence but also it’s great to see Sammy get rewarded,” he said. “Because look at the way he goes to the net. He’s hungry, he’s relentless, he’s on the puck.”
The 19-year-old center, selected fourth overall in the 2014 draft, insists he hasn’t tinkered with his play. He went 18 straight games without a goal before his recent scoring flurry increased his output to 13 for the season.
“Maybe my confidence might be a little bit higher now,” said Bennett, who scored four goals against Florida on Jan. 13. “Still playing the exact same way. Thinking about playing the right way and not cheating.”
Michael Frolik also scored as Calgary improved to 6-7-1 since a seven-game winning streak in early December. They got their first win in the third game of an important season-high, five-game road trip.
“Those two points are huge for us,” Bennett said. “It’s a big road trip for us to jump back up the standings.”
Mark Giordano and Mikael Backlund each added two assists, and Karri Ramo stopped 27 shots for the Flames.
Scott Hartnell and Brandon Dubinksy scored for Columbus, which lost Sergei Bobrovky to another lower-body injury. Playing his second game since missing 17 with a groin injury, Bobrovsky left with 8:30 remaining in the second period after allowing two goals on 13 shots. On Tuesday, he gave up five goals on the first 15 shots in a 6-3 loss to visiting Washington.
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella didn’t want to touch the topic of his often injured goalie. Bobrovsky has suffered serious groin problems three seasons in a row.
“I don’t have an update,” Tortorella said. “I’m not going to get into speculating on Bob. I’m not a doctor.”
He said Bobrovksy going out shouldn’t have impacted how his team played.
“In fact it probably should make you play better for Korpy coming in because he’s coming in cold,” Tortorella said of back up Joonas Korpisalo, who finished with 12 saves.
Tied 2-2 after two periods, Gaudreau gave Calgary its third lead with his 20th of the season at 1:28 of the third. The crafty winger skated the puck from center ice to the bottom of the left circle and beat Korpisalo, deep in the crease, with a high shot.
“We need the big guys to get on the score sheet, to play good hockey,” Hartley said. “Even though Johnny is still a very young player he’s very effective for us.”
Near the midpoint of the period, the Blue Jackets’ Cam Atkinson hit the right post from the right hash mark.
Bennett gave the Flames a two-goal cushion with 5:32 left, jamming home a wraparound.
“The guys in the locker room knew it was a really important game for us,” Gaudreau said. “It showed in the third period with the guys worked and played. Found a couple goals there and played well defensively and got the win.”
The game started slow. Frolik closed a sleepy first period with the opening goal with 8 seconds left. He one-timed a long rebound between Bobrovsky’s pads for his first goal since Dec. 8.
Hartnell, back after being benched one game for recently taking another bad penalty, tied it at 3:37 of the second with his 16th. Seth Jones fired a shot that banked off the end board glass to Hartnell and the team’s co-scoring leader directed it in from the left side.
The Flames regained the lead just 38 seconds later. Bennett gathered a stretch pass at the blue line behind Cody Goloubef, moved in and wristed a shot to the near side past Bobrovsky.
Late in the period Dubinsky made it 2-2 with his 10th. He won an offensive zone faceoff then hustled to the net, scooping up a rebound in traffic and putting the puck between Ramo’s legs with 2:04 left.
“Everyone in the lineup gave us a big game,” Hartley said. “It was a game based on speed, it was a game based on body checks. It was not a friendly game out there.”
Notes: Calgary snapped a three game losing streak against the Blue Jackets. … Jones extended his career-long assist streak to four games (five assists). … The Flames are 1-1-1 on the road trip. … Columbus is 8-5-4 in its last 17 home games.
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