The Blue Jackets earned a 3-2 victory vs. St. Louis in overtime Friday on Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Nationwide Arena.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus played a good first period and took a 1-0 lead, only to see the Blues tie the game in the last minute of the first period. That momentum carried into the second, as the Blues controlled the frame and led 2-1 after 40 minutes. The Blue Jackets tied the score at 2 early in a third period in which they were the better team, and overtime beckoned. On the power play, Zach Werenski's power-play winner was the difference at 3:34.
Video: Werenski's OT goal lifts Blue Jackets past Blues
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "I hope a win will relax this hockey club. We are one uptight goddamn team. I haven't seen a team … yeah. Hopefully that will help them. It's a good win. As ugly as we were in the first two periods, we were that good in the third period and we found a way. We always talk about finding a way in this league, and tonight we did."
- Vladislav Gavrikov scored his first NHL goal in the first period.
- Pierre-Luc Dubois scored his team-high seventh goal of the year and his second tally this year vs. St. Louis.
- Emil Bemstrom extended his point streak to four games (2-2-4) with an assist.
Columbus had the jump in the first period and nearly took the lead shorthanded when Josh Anderson forced a turnover behind the net and Blues goalie Jake Allen lost track of him, but Allen just got the left pad over to make the stop.
But the Blue Jackets did get the first goal of the game at 9:34, with Gavrikov scoring. Just after Gus Nyquist came out of the box, he got the puck in the corner and started a strong shift, with Dubois putting a shot on goal. Blues defenseman Colton Parayko tried to clear it, but the puck fell off his stick right to Gavrikov coming in from the right point and he drove it home past Allen.
Oliver Bjorkstrand had some tight-in chances later in the period but couldn't convert, and the Blues tied the score with 42.7 seconds left. It appeared to be an innocuous chance, as Mackenzie MacEachern wrapped the puck around the net and threw it in front, but it went off the stick of David Savard and into the net behind Joonas Korpisalo.
The Blues kept it going from there with some great chances in the second, including an early look for Brayden Schenn. Korpisalo denied that one, but Schenn got the power-play goal that gave St. Louis the lead 9:04 into the period. Six seconds into a power play, Schenn was alone in front and Jaden Schwartz found him for a stuff past Korpisalo.
Werenski had a great look on the doorstep late in the period to tie the score off a feed from Nyquist, but Allen stuck out his right pad and kept it a 2-1 game going to the third.
Dubois eventually did get the equalizer 2:50 into the third on a new line with Bemstron and Sonny Milano. The three worked a nice goal together, as it ended with Bemstrom feeding it out to him from below the goal line. Dubois' original shot was blocked, but he regathered it and quickly fired past Allen.
The Blue Jackets quickly pushed for the lead goal, but Allen made a pair of sterling saves in the span of a minute as the game neared the midpoint of the third. First Alexander Wennberg stole a pass and fired, while Dubois had the second chance, also denied by Allen.
It stayed a 2-2 game until overtime. Bjorkstrand took a tripping call 36 seconds into the OT and St. Louis nearly scored, but Savard blocked a pair of great looks on the 4-on-3 before the Blues were dinged for a too many men penalty. Werenski's power-play one-timer from the right circle at the 3:34 mark off a pass from Seth Jones served as the winner as the Jackets got back on the winning end of things.
1. The eight-minute postgame press conference seemed like a cathartic session for Tortorella, who talked repeatedly about just how tight his team has been during a recent 1-5-2 slump that has included a titanic struggle to score goals. When the head coach refers to his team as uptight, he's simply referring to how the inability to score -- and thus win -- has weighed on a team that believes at its core it's good enough. "Guys care, and it's almost like they care too much because we're really uptight," he said. The hope, then, is that the overtime win releases some of that pressure.
2. If you want to know how good the CBJ can be, consider this: The Blue Jackets have played the defending Stanley Cup champions -- a team that is 11-3-4 in games not vs. the Blue Jackets this year -- and played them to two overtime games and a combined 6-6 score. After the game, Werenski confidently stated the team believes it can play with the best if it can get its goal-scoring touch back. "We control play a lot of games, we have a ton of chances," he said. "I know it's kind of hard to say we have chances but no goals to show for it, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. I think if we're playing well and creating chances, we're good enough that guys are going to start scoring and we're going to start winning some games."
3. After the game in Montreal, we noted in this space how a 4-on-3 man advantage in overtime that the Blue Jackets didn't score on weighed heavily on that game's outcome. Tonight, in the same situation, Columbus got the job done. There was some strategic talk about what to do in a 4-on-3 situation that rarely occurs -- more movement, more passing -- but it was more just about playing. "One of the main points was, 'Just play,'" Tortorella said. "The game of hockey is instinctive. … We needed to get our instinctiveness back and get away from being so tentative and robot-like." And they did. "Eventually you have to see what's open, and I thought we did a good job of that on the power play there," Werenski said.
The Blue Jackets outshot the Blues by a 39-27 margin. ... Dubois now has a team-high 12 points on the season. ... Werenski has six goals to tie for third among NHL defensemen and goals in three straight games, tying a CBJ record for defensemen. … Gavrikov is the third CBJ player to get his first NHL goal in the last four games, joining Bemstrom and Eric Robinson. ... Milano got his first point since the last contest vs. St. Louis on Nov. 1, a span of five games. … Columbus and St. Louis each played their 13th one-goal game of the year, most in the NHL. ... It was also the Blue Jackets' eighth overtime game of the season and the Blues' 10th. The teams previously played an overtime game won by the Blues on Nov. 1. ... Columbus is 4-4 in extra time this year; 4-3 in games decided in 3-on-3 overtime and 0-1 in shootouts. All-time, the Blue Jackets are 48-31 in extra time since the NHL switched to 3-on-3, and 32-19 in the 3-on-3 action (16-12 in shootouts).
The Blue Jackets made one change in the back end but kept the same 12 forwards. Scott Harrington went in for the injured Ryan Murray, who was joined as a scratch by Nick Foligno (suspended) and forward Markus Hannikainen.
Columbus is off until Tuesday, when the Blue Jackets return to the ice to take on Montreal in Nationwide Arena.