The Blue Jackets were not lean on opportunities to score the tying goal in the dying minutes of tonight’s game, but Jaroslav Halak had an equal number of answers.
St. Louis swept the home-and-home series with Columbus – highlighted a stellar 33-save performance by its goaltender in this game – and earned its fifth consecutive win by a 2-1 margin in front of 14,969 at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets got two power-play opportunities in the final four minutes of regulation thanks to penalties by B.J. Crombeen and Alex Pietrangelo, but could not come up with the equalizer despite a bevy of looks at the net.
David Perron scored the game-winner early in the third period as he broke down the right wing during a wholesale line change. He leaned back and fired a wrister from the low circle that got through Curtis Sanford at 3:46, squeaking between Sanford’s arm and the post for his 14th goal of the year. With that goal in tow, the Blues improved to 11-5-4 this season when tied after two periods of play.
Patrik Berglund opened the scoring 1:09 into the second period by slamming home a rebound off Pietrangelo’s shot from the point. The Blue Jackets would answer later in the period, thanks to a crafty 3-on-2 rush started by rookie Ryan Johansen.
Johansen led the break across the offensive blue line and fed a pass to Mark Letestu, who was on the right wing side. Letestu crept to the top of right circle and fired a half-slapper to the far post behind Halak, bringing the Blue Jackets into a 1-1 tie at 12:09.
Halak was the difference down the stretch, making brilliant stops on Johansen during a 2-on-1 and also R.J. Umberger, who couldn’t lift the puck over the goalie’s pad off a Rick Nash centering pass. Halak’s most important stop of the night was the “pivotal moment” in the Blues’ win.
Columbus nearly got the crowd on its feet with the tying goal late in the third period, but Halak made a highlight-reel glove stop on the goal line to take it away. Nash took a shot from the left circle that deflected down and trickled through Halak’s pads and sat on the goal line. Jack Johnson and Derick Brassard tried to get a stick in and nudge the puck over the line, but Halak and Pietrangelo teamed up to make the biggest save of the night with 2:32 to play.
Johansen picked up his first point in 11 games with an assist on Letestu’s goal. He last had a point with a goal Jan. 24 at Tampa Bay, while the assist was his first since Jan. 10 at Chicago, a span of 17 games. .
Brett Lebda has points in back-to-back games after notching an assist on Letestu’s goal. The points in back-to-back games come after he went 13 games without a point and 17 games without an assist.
Letestu has points in four straight games after scoring his eighth goal of the season tonight. He has 2-3-5 during the point streak after being held pointless the previous five games. He has recorded 4-8-12 the last 19 games after being held to 2-1-3 the previous 15 games. In six career games against the Blues, he has 2-2-4.
at Edmonton Oilers
Rrexall Place | Edmonton, Alberta
Wednesday, 10 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com