The Calgary Flames officially continue their playoff push on Friday night without former captain Jarome Iginla as they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Not long after a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, a contest in which Iginla was a healthy scratch to end a string of 441 consecutive games played, the Flames announced they had traded their all-time leader in goals, points and games played to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a pair of college forwards and a 2013 first-round pick.
The 35-year-old Iginla notched 525 goals, 570 assists, 1,095 points and 1,219 games played with the Flames and helped the club reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. Calgary, though, has missed the postseason in each of the last three years and enters play on Friday 14th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference and six points back of a playoff spot.
"It's definitely weird. There's no downplaying the significance and the presence that he has been in this room and on this organization and on this city, so it's a little different," Flames forward Mike Cammalleri said on Thursday.
Despite the trade of Iginla, Cammalleri said the rest of the Flames aren't calling it quits on a run at a playoff spot.
"For players in the room, we get up every day trying to win hockey games," he said. "There's no feeling of that in the room when it comes to players. We're going to try and win every game. We feel like we can do it. Until they take our skates off, we're going to feel that way."
Cammalleri will be counted on to help replace Iginla's offense and he was up to the task on Wednesday, scoring a pair of second-period goals in the win over the Avalanche.
Jiri Hudler and Steve Begin each lit the lamp in the first period for the Flames, who have won eight straight at home. Joey MacDonald made 27 saves.
"I give lots of credit to our players, because they showed great focus," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said of his team playing without Iginla. "We have lots of great veterans, so obviously leadership is not a problem."
The Flames hope to extend their home winning streak on Friday and hand the Blue Jackets a winless four-game swing. Columbus is 0-2-1 thus far, beginning the trip with a 5-2 loss in Nashville that snapped its club-record 12-game point streak (8-0-4).
The Blue Jackets were then dealt a shootout loss in Vancouver before a 6-4 loss in Edmonton on Thursday. They lost despite a career-high three points from Cam Atkinson, who scored twice as he matched Rick Nash's franchise record for the fastest goal to begin a game. He scored 10 seconds into the contest and also tallied in the third period to put Columbus up by a goal before Edmonton scored the game's final three goals.
"That's a tough way to lose, normally we're very good defensively and normally we don't score that many goals," Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson remarked. "When we do score that many goals and lose it's a frustrating one."
Artem Anisimov also had a three-point night with a goal and two assists, Matt Calvert notched a goal and a helper and Sergei Bobrovsky yielded all five goals on 24 shots.
Columbus, which is tied for 10th in the West and three points back of a playoff spot, had defenseman James Wisniewski in the lineup for the first time in 15 games due to a broken foot. He was activated off injured reserve prior to the game, while forward Brandon Dubinsky missed his third in a row with a lower body injury and was placed on IR.
The Flames and Blue Jackets have split two meetings this season in Columbus, with the Jackets notching a 5-1 win in the most recent meeting on March 22 to push their points streak to 12 straight.
Though the Blue Jackets have won their last two in Calgary, they have still dropped six of their past nine as the road team in this series.