Cam Atkinson’s second goal of the season was the perfect tonic for the Blue Jackets to answer a strong first period from the host St. Louis Blues. But the first-place team in the National Hockey League had a better answer, and it was the difference in the game.
Chris Stewart and T.J. Oshie scored a pair of goals 5:21 apart late in the second period, giving the Blues a 3-1 lead only minutes after Columbus had tied the game. Both tallies were products of great plays by the Blues, and despite a strong effort in net from Curtis Sanford, the Blue Jackets were unable to provide more offense for their goaltender. In the process, the Blues picked up their fourth consecutive win in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,150 at Scottrade Center.
St. Louis opened the scoring at 6:01 of the opening period on David Perron’s 13th goal of the season. Andy McDonald made a great play at the side of the net, and Perron found some open ice to tap in the lead goal. The Blues out-shot Columbus 15-6 in the opening 20 minutes of play, but the Blue Jackets responded well to start the middle frame.
The second line of Vinny Prospal, Mark Letestu and Atkinson capitalized on a solid shift early in the second period, and a feathered pass by Letestu set up the 1-1 goal at 2:24. After that, the Blues took control and established the tempo of the game.
McDonald picked up his second assist of the night on Alex Pietrangelo’s power-play goal at 7:11 of the third period for the 4-1 final margin.
The game-deciding goal for the Blues was eerily reminiscent of a goal scored by Stewart last season at Nationwide Arena. The big winger burst down the left wing, pivoted to the backhand and roofed a wicked shot over Sanford’s shoulder and under the bar to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead they would not let go.
The loss tonight ends a season-high four-game winning streak for the Blue Jackets. Despite the loss, Columbus is 4-2-1 in its last seven road games after going 0-6-1 in the previous seven contests away from Nationwide Arena.
Atkinson scored his second goal of the season in the second period on the pass from Letestu. It was his first goal since being recalled from Springfield (AHL) on Feb. 24, and first since Oct. 10, 2011 vs. Vancouver - a span of 10 games.
Letestu has points in three straight games after notching an assist on Atkinson’s goal. The streak comes after he was held without a point in the previous five games. He has recorded 3-8-11 the last 18 games after being held to 2-1-3 the previous 15 games.
Brett Lebda picked up his first assist as a Blue Jackets with the secondary helper on the Atkinson tally. It was also his first assist in 17 games, as he last recorded an assist on March 19, 2011 against the Boston Bruins (as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs).
Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson led all players with 28:10 time on ice tonight, and also led all Columbus players with four shots on goal.
vs. St. Louis Blues
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, Ohio
Sunday, 6 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: CD102.5 FM & BlueJackets.com