With roster reductions looming, several young Blue Jackets made the most of one more opportunity to gain the spotlight in a solid 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Tyler Motte, Markus Hannikainen, Markus Nutivaara, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Dean Kukan each scored to secure the team's second win of the preseason.
Joonas Korpisalo started in net, and early on he became the primary driver of offense versus his usual role as the last line of defense.
The 23-year-old goaltender cleared the puck with a long pass to Motte creating a 2-on-1 just 1:47 into the game. Motte carried the puck into the zone and down the right side before firing one past Jake Allen to get the first goal of the night.
Nine minutes later, the other goaltender in the game got involved in a score, but not the way he wanted. Allen attempted to clear the puck but Markus Hannikainen intercepted the pass and immediately banged a shot home to make it 2-0.
The Jackets didn't let up on the intensity.
After a trio of penalties between the two teams resulted in an extended Jackets' power play, including some time at 5-on-3, Markus Hannikainen netted a third Jackets goal. The defenseman corralled a pass across the slot from Oliver Bjorkstrand and shot from the right circle to beat Allen and make it 3-0. David Savard had the secondary assist.
The Blues' offense was slow to start, mustering only five shots on goal in the first period to the Jackets' 17, but they were the more aggressive team to start the middle frame.
St. Louis ran with the Jackets shot for shot before Sam Blaise made it 3-1 off a backhand in the low slot.
But that recharged the home team. 1:02 later, Pierre-Luc Dubois crashed the net and pushed the puck past Allen off a Bjorkstrand rebound, re-establishing the Jackets' three-score lead. It was Dubois' third goal of the preseason.
The Blues scored again before the period was over. Tage Thompson made it 4-2 with just over five minutes left to play in the second.
In the third, St. Louis battled to close the score gap, but they took three penalties in the third period alone, and the Jackets capitalized.
While on the power play, Ryan Murray got the puck to Calvin Thurkauf who passed the puck across the high slot. Kukan slapped the puck from above the right circle to make it 5-2, a score that would stand through the remainder of the game.
The Jackets converted two of their seven power plays and outshot the Blues 40-21. Korpisalo stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced.
The Jackets are now 2-3-1 in the preseason. They head to Nashville Thursday to face off against the Predators in an 8:00 p.m. matchup.
By the numbers:
1: Goals one, two, three and five for the Jackets, scored by Motte, Hannikainen, Nutivaara, and Kukan respectively were the first of the preseason for each player.
2: Number of players named Markus who scored in tonight's game.
3: Number of goals scored by Pierre-Luc Dubois in the preseason, the most of any Blue Jackets player.
9: Number of Blue Jackets playing in their fourth exhibition game: Scott Harrington, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Sonny Milano, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Markus Hannikainen, Lukas Sedlak, Tyler Motte, Vitaly Abramov, Calvin Thurkauf.
"What they said"
John Tortorella on evaluating guys tonight: "It brought more clarity and we're in the process of making those decisions, at least as far as how we start the season. This can all be interchangeable as we go through the year, I think we have a pretty good idea of what we're going to do. We're in the process of speaking with the players tonight…guys that are being assigned, guys that are staying here."
Markus Hannikainen on if he's shown what he can do: "I think so. I can generate offense and the most important part of my game is to play both ways, block shots, make good plays defensively, clear the zones. I have to just keep playing like that.
"This is a pro league, you have to handle the pressure. You have to perform better, and I think I did that."
Markus Nutivaara on the purpose of this game: "It was important (for me) to get the confidence up. I'm not still 100% happy about my game, I still have to work on some areas; just little things…area plays, be a little smarter with the puck sometimes. That comes when you get more games. But it was nice to have a goal."