The Blue Jackets didn’t care who was behind the other bench, how many games the Blues had won in their last 10 or how their fortunes were predicted tonight. Instead, they came out and played perhaps their most complete hockey game of the season.
With thrilling drama to close both the first and third periods, the Blue Jackets neutralized a high-flying St. Louis team and earned a 2-1 victory in front of 12,425 at Nationwide Arena. Their goal was to keep the Blues from getting their transition attack going, and the Blue Jackets did so by keeping St. Louis flummoxed in the neutral zone and spending more time than usual in their own zone.
Jeff Carter had an up-and-down first period that turned a 180 in the span of 68 seconds. He turned the puck over in the offensive zone to David Perron, who embarked on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with David Backes to give the Blues a 1-0 lead at 18:51 of the opening period. Carter overskated the puck in the high slot and Perron took off, feeding Backes who went backhand-glove behind Steve Mason for St. Louis’ only tally of the game.
It appeared as if the first period would quietly end that way, but Carter showed his quick hands in the face-off circle and got the puck back to Mark Letestu on the half-wall. Letestu quickly fed James Wisniewski, who uncorked a rocket one-timer that sailed past Jaroslav Halak with 0.1 seconds left in the first period.
Following a quiet second period, both teams geared up for a wild finish in the third period. The Blue Jackets third line of Antoine Vermette, Sammy Pahlsson and Derek Dorsett was perhaps their best all night long, and they collaborated for the game-winning goal at 6:49 of the third. Vermette intercepted a breakout pass and spun the puck toward Halak, who kicked the rebound to Pahlsson on the door step. Pahlsson was denied, but the puck laid in the crease for Dorsett to deposit his 10th goal of the season and give Columbus a 2-1 lead.
The final moments were perhaps the most dramatic of the game. As the seconds ticked away, the Blues thought they had scored the tying goal with 1.8 seconds to play, but the goal was disallowed after it was determined Perron directed the puck in the net with his glove. With the victory, the Blue Jackets completed a stretch of five games in eight nights by winning four of their last six.
It was hard to miss the emotion on Dorsett’s face when he cashed the go-ahead goal in the third period, and the marker eventually stood as the winner. The goal came after another tenacious shift by the Blue Jackets third line and Dorsett’s goal got the Blues back on their heels.
Columbus has power play goals in six-straight games after going 1-for-4 with the man advantage tonight. The club is 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) the last six games after going 4-of-42 (9.5 percent) the previous 17 games.
Wisniewski has goals in two of the last three games after scoring his fourth of the season at the end of the first period. He has points in three-straight games (2-2-4) since returning to the lineup Feb. 11 at Minnesota.
Letestu returned to the lineup tonight after missing the previous 17 games due to a hand injury suffered Jan. 5 at San Jose and recorded an assist on Wisniewski’s goal. He has points in back-to-back games and has collected 1-5-6 the last eight games after being held to 2-1-3 the previous 15 games.
Carter has points in back-to-back games after recording an assist on Wisniewski’s goal. He has points in four of the last six games (2-2-4) after being held to 0-1-1 the previous seven games.
Dorsett pushed his career high in goals to 10 with his third period goal tonight. His previous best was four, set three times previously (last season, most recent). The game-winning goal was the second of his NHL career. He has recorded 8-5-13 the last 35 games after being held to 2-0-2 the first 19 games of the season.
Pahlsson snapped a 13-game pointless skid with an assist on Dorsett’s goal. He last had a point with an assist Jan. 13 vs. Phoenix. He has notched 2-7-9 the last 34 games after being held to 0-2-2 the first 22 games.
vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com