Center Ryan Johansen said he knew tonight would be different by the quiet focus in the dressing room before the Blue Jackets played the Calgary Flames. Coach Todd Richards got his first hint on the Jackets' first shift of the game by the way Johansen was skating.

"First shift," Richards said. "Johansen was skating faster than I've seen him skate in a while. The other guys, (Nick) Foligno and (R.J.) Umberger, were really going, too. You could tell the guys were engaged. And it was a different on the bench, too."

All the was missing in Edmonton on Tuesday -- pace, passion, hunger, heart -- was rediscovered just a few hours south in Calgary, and the reward of two points followed.

The Blue Jackets won 2-1 at 2:25 of overtime when defenseman Nikita Nikitin stepped into a loose puck and fired home the game-winner, his first goal in 29 games and the first OT game-winner of his 156-game NHL career.

Nick Foligno also scored for the Blue Jackets, while goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky had 23 saves.

For the first time in franchise history, the Blue Jackets played a road game without being whistled for any penalties. That's a testament to how they moved their feet while checking, and an indication of how much the possessed the puck, especially in the first two periods.

"The thing is, we all believe and we all know we can play the way we did tonight," Johansen said. "We just have to come together every night and be ready for puck drop.

"It was a frustrating night in Edmonton (7-0 loss on Tuesday). But we have to move forward now, forget about the past and look forward to Vancouver."

The Blue Jackets have been stuck in a manic bender for most of the first six weeks of the season. One night they'll look like the same united front as they possessed last season. The next, they'll look like a merry band of misfits, playing together for the first time.

There was a genuine sense of joy tonight. Relief was in there, too. But the key now is establish a high level of play on a nightly basis. That's often referred to, simply, as being professional.

"The great thing about sports is you always get a chance to prove yourself," Richards said. "Coming off last night ... as a coach sometimes you don't know what you're going to get, but I'm real happy with the way the guys stepped up tonight.

"(We) questioned their character a little bit. They came out and they played hard. Ran out of gas a little bit toward the end, but I thought we battled for 60-plus minutes."

The Blue Jackets won more puck battles before the first TV timeout tonight than they did all of Tuesday.

At 9:21, Foligno put Columbus up 1-0 when he beat Calgary goaltender Reto Berra under the crossbar from the inside of the left circle. The puck was kept alive and in the zone by Umberger, who did yeoman's work at the blue line to keep it in.

The Flames could barely breath with the puck in the first two periods. It wasn't until the third period that the Flames began to push back and the Blue Jackets began to tire, and Calgary outshot Columbus 7-1 in the first 14 minutes of the third.

Calgary pulled even at 3:28 of the third. David Jones chipped the puck behind the Blue Jackets' defense in the neutral zone, and Joe Colborne was there in stride to gather it. He pulled away from Johnson and lifted the puck off his backhand to beat Bobrovsky.

The Blue Jackets took the only two shots in overtime, both part of the same sequence.

Artem Anisimov carried the puck into the slot and showed immense patience with the puck, causing Berra to short-circuit. Anisimov's first shot was stopped by Berra, a rebound fired by David Savard was blocked by a Flames defenseman as Berra scrambled out of position, and the puck off Savard's shot presented itself to Nikitin.

"It's a great play by Arty right there," Savard said. "By the end there, guys were diving all over the place."