ST. LOUIS - This is a tough place to play.
It's been a few years since the Blue Jackets used to make multiple trips here each season, to Scottrade Center, but those days haven't been completely erased.
In fact, the Jackets' 4-1 loss Saturday night to the Blues was a stark reminder that a trip to St. Louis often means bruises in store for the visitors, both physical and emotional.
Columbus has since moved into the Eastern Conference's Metropolitan Division, which has its own dangers lurking in every shadow, but this place is still one of the hardest rinks to visit.
The Blues are big, fast, skilled and experienced. They can still leave marks on you, as the Jackets found out Saturday night.
Here's a closer look at how Columbus' lone visit 'St. Lou' unfolded:
Goals: CBJ - None; STL - Vladimir Sobotka (Colton Parayko, Paul Stastny), 19:26
Shots: Blues 14, Blue Jackets 8
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blues 70.6% (24-10), Blue Jackets 33.3% (10-24),
4:00 - Another slow start for the Jackets, their second in as many days, nearly cost them again. The Winnipeg Jets scored less than five minutes into Columbus' 2-1 overtime win Friday, and the Blues came close to doing the same.
They owned the puck in the first few minutes, which led to a pair of scoring chances for Sobotka. Joonas Korpisalo stopped both for the Blue Jackets, one with a chest save and the second by just getting his left pad out near the right post.
6:30 - The Jackets were outshot by six in the first, but began to generate some prime scoring chances of their own. The first resulted in their first shot of the game, which might've been Columbus' best scoring chance of the game.
It was taken by Josh Anderson, whose overtime goal Friday gave Columbus a win.
This time, Anderson got a sense for what it felt like to be Blake Wheeler, the Jets forward who was robbed point-blank by Sergei Bobrovsky on Friday in overtime, moments before Anderson won the game. Anderson was on the other end of this one, watching Allen dive and his shot go right into the goalie's trapper.
Anderson could only shake his head in disbelief.
8:34 - Two minutes later, Anderson's stick inadvertently clipped Carl Gunnarsson in the face, drawing a high-sticking minor. Like they did Friday, the Blue Jackets' penalty-killers did their thing, killing off their 13th straight power play in five-plus games. Captain Nick Foligno had a good scoring chance during the kill, but Allen made a nice glove save to keep it scoreless.
19:26 - Just when it looked like Korpisalo would get through the first 20 minutes unscathed, the Blues struck first off a rush opportunity. Seth Jones and Brandon Dubinsky skated back to defend, but Colton Parayko carried between the circles and launched a hard wrist shot.
The puck snuck through Korpisalo and settled onto the ice behind him. Sobtoka raced over and tapped into the net.
QUOTE: "That could be a 1-0 game early-on for us, but [Allen] makes that great save on Andy, and Korpi made some great saves too [for us]. It was a 1-0 game for a long time. Really, if we come out of that first period 0-0, it's a different story. - Foligno.
Goals: CBJ - None; STL - Scottie Upshall (Joel Edmundson, Dmitrij Jaskin), 6:31,
Shots: Blue Jackets 17, Blues 11
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 62.2% (23-14), Blues 37.8% (14-23)
1:30 - Sobtoka finally did something wrong. The Blues forward was called for hooking, which gave the Jackets their first power play. It didn't go as Columbus hoped. The Blue Jackets got just one shot on goal, by Foligno, in a recurring theme. It was the fifth straight power play without a goal for Columbus, which went 0-for-4 against Winnipeg on Friday. St. Louis also gained a little spark from the kill.
6:31 - Three minutes after the Blues thwarted the Jackets' man-advantage, Upshall made it 2-0 with a hard-work goal in front of the net. After a shot from the right wing by Dmitrij Jaskin, Korpisalo made the save and sent the puck to the left-wing boards. Edmundson decided to send it right back with a shot. The puck appeared to hit the stick of a Columbus defender before deflecting off Upshall's right skate into the net. Nothing Korpisalo could do about that one.
8:28 - It looked like a play that might get the Blue Jackets right back into the game, one of those pretty Tic-Tac-Toe numbers that winds up being rerun all night long on NHL Network. Well, it was still a highlight, just not for Columbus.
Artemi Panarin pickpocketed the puck from Gunnarsson, and threw a crisp backhand pass to Dubinsky in the middle of the slot. Dubinsky wasted no time and hit Cam Atkinson with a feed to the left of the Blues net. That's where the good stuff ended, for the Jackets anyway.
Atkinson got off two quick shots, nearly scoring on both, but couldn't get the puck in the net. Allen stopped the first with his pad, while prone on the ice, and heard the second one clang off the right post - after Atkinson chipped it over him.
16:56 - Another penalty, another penalty killed by the Blue Jackets. Panarin was called for hooking, and the Columbus PK units again snuffed out another one. Jack Johnson, Dubinsky and Matt Calvert all blocked shots, including Calvert sacrificing his body to stop a hard slap shot by Parayko.
QUOTE: "I thought we put in some good minutes. I thought we didn't have a lot of puck luck. I thought we were getting closer. Allen made some key saves, some of them I don't think he even saw the puck, but the team that won tonight deserved to win." - Tortorella
Goals: CBJ - Matt Calvert (Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alexander Wennberg), 6:21; STL - Joel Edmundson (Kyle Brodziak, Scottie Upshall), 1:29
Shots: Blues 16, Blue Jackets 12,
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blues 52.8% (19-17), Blue Jackets 47.2% (17-19)
Overall shots: Blues 42, Blue Jackets 37
Overall Corsi: Blues 53.3% (57-50), Blue Jackets 46.7% (50-57)
1:29 - After dominating the puck in the second period, outshooting the Blues 17-11, it felt like there might be another comeback left in the Blue Jackets. Edmundson made that considerably more difficult with his third goal of the season to put the Blues up 3-0.
St. Louis created an odd-man rush early, which Edmundson capped by sniping a wrist shot from the left circle over Korpisalo's blocker. Three-goal deficits aren't impossible to erase, but with less than 20 minutes left in the game, the challenge is a lot more difficult. The Jackets were in a bind.
6:21 - Finally, a puck eludes Allen, courtesy of Calvert. The Jackets' hard-working net-crasher showed some nimble hands with the puck on his tape. His shot from the low slot got past St. Louis center Kyle Brodziak, and Allen, ripping into the upper right corner of the net for his third goal of the season, pulling the Jackets to within 3-1.
7:24 - Cam Atkinson's final shift of the night ends here, not quite to the halfway point of the final period. Tortorella didn't have an update after the game, but needless to say, he'd be very difficult to replace.
QUOTE: "I'm not going to overthink it. That team was better than we were tonight. They started better than we [did]. We were chasing the game. When you chase a team like that, especially a veteran club and a good team in this league, it's tough to crawl back into it." - Tortorella.