The Blue Jackets have been winning games with defense and goaltending, but tonight in St. Louis, they needed a little more "finish" from their offense to get by.
Sergei Bobrovsky, starting on back-to-back nights, gave his team more than a fair chance to win. He was terrific, making several huge stops at key moments while his teammates tried to find their footing at the other end, and if not for him the outcome may have been fairly lopsided.
Scottie Upshall (remember him?) scored the game-winning goal early in the third period, snapping a 1-1 tie through 40 minutes and giving the Blues a home victory at Scottrade Center.
For the Blue Jackets, their brief two-game win streak was snapped but they hope their offensive struggles are only temporary. Their wins over New Jersey and Pittsburgh were of the 2-1 variety, and tonight, they needed two in the third period to surpass St. Louis – and it was a bit too much to ask.
The opportunities were there, but the lack of a big play plagued the Blue Jackets.
“That’s the type of game, if we want to be where we want to be when this regular season’s done, we need to get a point,” coach John Tortorella said. “We couldn’t score, they did. We had some chances, but we just don’t finish. We had a number of odd-man rushes but we just don’t finish. (Face-offs) were a major problem tonight as far as puck possession, but we’re still right there.”
Once again, though, the start was good for the Blue Jackets. They got a first period goal from Ryan Johansen (it was initially credited to Boone Jenner, but changed in the third period) after a strong shift in the offensive zone.
David Savard flipped a long shot from the right point toward the net, caroming off the end boards where both Johansen and Jenner were stationed at the side of the cage. One of the two got a stick on the puck to chip it past Jake Allen, but only after some deliberation and consultation was the goal-scorer determined.
The Blues came back with a burst to close out the first period, but Bobrovsky and the blue line stood tall to keep it 1-0 after 20.
Vladimir Tarasenko, who was kept in check most of the night, tied the game in the second period on the power play after burying his third chance on the shift. He used a partial screen to go top-shelf on Bobrovsky, bringing the Blues level at 2:09.
A huge 1:13 5-on-3 penalty kill gave the Blue Jackets a jolt in the second period but they came up empty offensively, and the game remained a 1-1 tie after two periods. Again, the game was up for grabs with 20 minutes to play but the Blues got the early goal from Upshall and managed to hang on.
“They got that one early on in the third and I thought we had a good press back, but we’ve got to find a way to get another one,” Jenner said. “We wanted to push back and we were in a similar situation last night and we kept pushing forward, but tonight, it didn’t go in for us.
“We’ve got to regroup and get better. We’re playing a lot more of the style we want to play, that’s for sure, but we need the wins.”