ST. LOUIS, MO — What a wild start to this one.
There were penalties, some skirmishes…and plenty of goals. Columbus and St. Louis combined for 24 shots and five goals in the opening period, four of those tallies belonging to the Blue Jackets who lead 4-1 after 20 minutes at Scottrade Center.
The Blue Jackets used three power play goals (Boll, Craig, Tyutin) to capitalize on a ragged run of play from the hosts, including an errant high-sticking double minor by Magnus Paajarvi that gave the Jackets a lengthy 5-on-3.
BLUE JACKETS 5, BLUES 4
All of the goals came in the first 13:13 for Columbus, which needed only 11 shots to score its four goals. The power play featured an interesting wrinkle with newcomer Simon Hjalmarsson manning the point alongside Fedor Tyutin, and Hjalmarsson did a really nice job distributing the puck and getting shots on net.
"I felt good out there," Hjalmarsson said, noting that he'd had a little experience playing the point over in Sweden. "With every shift, I got more and more comfortable out there. I got those shifts in the power play in the first period, and I had the puck a bit. You feel more comfortable when have the puck than without it, chasing it...it was good."
The Blues were able to get one back late in the period on a 2-on-1 between Paul Stastny and one-time Blue Jackets prospect Joakim Lindstrom, the latter slamming a cross-ice pass inside the post to make it 4-1 with 1:41 left in the first period.
To summarize, it was a period dominated by the Blue Jackets and they were efficient with their offense, as well; the power play looked dangerous, they got contributions from all four lines and hey, that Scott Hartnell guy looked really solid on left wing with Letestu and Foligno (tonight’s No. 1 line for Columbus).
As you might expect, the Blues were slightly perturbed coming out of their room in the second period.
There were a couple of fights (one decision for either side) and a lot of extracurriculars after the whistles, but through it all. the most impressive thing was the play of McElhinney. The Jackets goaltender, who was solid last weekend against these same Blues, made 12 saves on 13 shots in the middle frame and did some of his best work while Columbus was shorthanded.
"There wasn't much 5-on-5 play, obviously," Hartnell said. "Our power play did a great job of getting some goals early, and I was happy that we held on for the win."
On his line with Foligno and Letestu: "I felt good. They're both simple players, and Mark's really good defensively. We had a few rush chances and had a lot of time in their zone, and it's a lot easier to play that way than in your d-zone."
Dana Tyrell scored a fluky shorthanded goal, winning a battle behind the St. Louis net and making a simple chip over the net and into the crease area. The puck hit a Blues defenseman, dropped into the crease and trickled into the net, making it 5-1 Jackets at the time.
The Blues had an answer late in the second period, getting a redirect goal from captain David Backes with 2:29 left in the frame to make it a 5-2 game.
Just when it looked as though St. Louis would be the team to make a goaltending change after the second period, a surprise!
After another solid effort between the pipes, Todd Richards decided to give McElhinney the third period off after making 23 saves on 25 shots. In stepped Anton Forsberg, who faced a grade-A chance right of the chute.
Vladimir Tarasenko, who was very good in this game, brought the Blues within 5-3 just 90 seconds into the third period.
But he wasn’t done yet.
A brilliant set-up by Jori Lehtera gave Tarasenko a clean look from between the circles, and he made no mistake. Tarasenko’s second goal of the night made it a one-goal game with 7:08 to play, making for a wild finish inside Scottrade Center.
Editor’s note: these two teams have played a few wild games here over the years.
Two late-game penalties cost the Blues a true chance to tie the game. The Blue Jackets held on for a 5-4 win, moving them to 4-0-0 in the preseason after a win here in St. Louis.
"We started the game well," Richards said. "Obviously the power play helped, scoring the goals early...but it was our 5-on-5 game I thought we were better (than St. Louis). We pursued pucks, and forced some turnovers and that's what we wanted to do. It's an area we need to be better at, and I thought we got better."