Though the Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues have very similar styles and records, the two teams have play quite differently than each other the last several games. The Blue Jackets used a mixture of solid goaltending and taking advantage of offensive opportunities en route to a 4-2 victory over the Blues on Monday night
The Blue Jackets are coming off a 6-5 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in a game which featured the Blackhawks coaxing the Blue Jackets into a track-meet. The loss on Saturday notched the third in-a-row for Columbus.
“We were a lot more hungry in our defensive zone,” Blue Jackets forward Raffi Torres said. “We weren’t letting checks go. We kept checking hard. With a team like that, you have to check hard. They have a lot of skill and put some pucks on the net.”
The Blues on the other hand have reversed their fortunes. After firing their coach at the beginning of the month, they have gone on to win four in a row heading into Columbus, allowing just two goals in their last three games.
St. Louis got ahead 1-0 1:11 into the first on a power-play goal by Paul Kariya on a shot that beat the stick of Blue Jackets’ goalie Mathieu Garon. Considering the Blues have not allowed more than a single goal the last three games, things did not look good early for the Blue Jackets. Torres had the answer.
“They really come at you the first 10 minutes and we haven’t been able to survive the first 10 minutes,” Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’ve really dug ourselves a hole. I thought we got better and better as the game went on. I thought we really managed the game properly. We had a lot of solid line play today.”
Torres notched the Blue Jackets’ first two goals, both in the first period. His first came 4:21 into the period shooting the puck past the stick of Blues’ goalie Chris Mason after getting ahead of the defense after receiving a nice outlet pass from defenseman Kris Russell. Torres’ second came seven minutes as he received a pass from Derick Brassard while sitting perfectly by Mason’s stick side.
The game marked Torres’ third two-goal game of the season.
“He’s an unpredictable scoring player,” Hitchcock said. “He’s got a great wrist shot and he’s one of the few guys that can score from distance. It’s hard to cover him because he doesn’t have to be at the net to score his goals. He’s got arguable the best release on the team.”
St. Louis tied the game at two 3:44 into the second as he shot the puck off Russell.
Less than a minute later, the captain came to the rescue. Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash notched the eventual game-winner less than a minute later. Nash had a bad angle sitting on Mason’s glove side but was able to take the shot around Mason and into his far post. The goal put Columbus up 3-2.
Columbus gave itself insurance 1:25 into the first as Chris Clark scored his first goal in Columbus after firing the puck into an open net after the puck bounced off the back of Mason after a shot by Kristian Huselius.
“It is tough going into the third period and playing the whole third period only being up by a goal because the other team is really pushing and pushing,” Clark said. “The two goal lead gives you a bit of a cushion in case you make a mistake.”
Mason stopped 26-of-30. Garon battled through an arm injury and stopped 30-of-32 of the Blues’ shots.