BLUES (20-14-2) 3, BLUE JACKETS (16-15-7) 1
SCOTTRADE CENTER | ST. LOUIS, MO
Does this sound familiar? The Blue Jackets, trailing 2-1 entering the third period, emptied the tank against a Blues team that was more than willing to grab the game clock by the utters and scratch out a win.
Rookie goaltender Jake Allen, recently recalled by St. Louis, was the difference in the hockey game as the Blues got two crucial points in a jam-packed Western Conference playoff race. With both clubs playing on the second night of back-to-back sets and battling fatigue down the stretch of this truncated season, it was set up to be a battle of will and endurance at Scottrade Center -- and a nine-second span in the second period proved to be the final margin.
Artem Anisimov walked off the goal line and scored from a sharp angle on Allen, bringing the Blue Jackets level at 1-1 before a bizarre sequence resulted in the winning goal moments later. The Blues broke in on a modified 3-on-2 rush off the ensuing face-off, and while on his back, David Backes was able to chip the puck through Sergei Bobrovsky's pads and give St. Louis an enormously important 2-1 lead.
And despite the Blues' best efforts to make the Blue Jackets fetch the puck inside their own end and skate the length of the ice for scoring opportunities, Columbus managed to make the Blues sweat in the third period. Allen was tested multiple times and the Blue Jackets had a goal disallowed because Matt Calvert got too close to the goaltender, and they showed no hesitiation in continuing to drive the net in search of their second goal.
Barret Jackman did give them one final chance: a power play inside the final two minutes of regulation. Todd Richards pulled Bobrovsky for an extra attacker and the Blue Jackets had several chances, but the Blues and Allen kept the puck out of danger just long enough to pick up a 3-1 win (Patrik Berglund scored an empty-net goal with one second left).
The Blue Jackets could ill afford any wild swings of momentum in this game - particularly with the tanks closing in on 'empty' - and the Backes goal came at the worst possible time. Anisimov's goal gave them a huge lift by breaking through in a very tight-checking game, but one of the Blue Jackets' few mistakes cost them the go-ahead goal.
- Bobrovsky was solid in goal but didn't have as much work as he's become accustomed to. Still, the Jackets netminder did his job and made several clutch saves to keep Columbus within striking distance.
- Marian Gaborik, fresh off a two-point effort in his Blue Jackets debut last night, picked up an assist on the Anisimov goal and has been flying since joining his new club. His next game: a date with the team that drafted him first overall in 2000.
- Richards praised the Calvert-Dubinsky-Atkinson line after the game, and for good reason: the trio was Columbus' most effective and made speed a collective weapon, winning races to loose pucks and getting to open space. With Blake Comeau in the fold and able to slot virtually anywhere in the lineup, it looks as if Dubinsky's spot is going to be centering the two youngsters.
- Comeau played 8:04 and was credited with two hits in his Jackets debut.
- Nikita Nikitin was not credited with a shift in the third period and played just 14:46 in the game. The team said he will be further evaluated tomorrow for an upper body injury suffered in tonight's game.
vs. Minnesota Wild
Sunday, 6 p.m.