After back-to-back wins over the weekend, the Blue Jackets seemed determined to keep their winning streak alive against the St. Louis Blues at Nationwide Arena.
And that’s exactly what they did.
The Blue Jackets capitalized on a dominant second period to pull past the Blues and clinch their third straight win (second straight on home ice). The Blue Jackets, who put a lot of pressure on the Blues' defense and out-shot them 21-3 in the middle frame, made their mark less than five minutes into the period.
Cam Atkinson got the puck to Ryan Murray at the left point, and Murray found Brandon Saad in the right circle with a beautiful cross-ice pass. Saad spun, turned and whipped a backhanded top-shelf shot that beat Blues goaltender Brian Elliot and gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead that they'd hang to for the duration.
Saad’s goal was the game-winner, and he added an empty-netter for good measure to lock up a 3-1 final.
“I think it’s huge,” Saad said. “Especially for how we played in the second. Just a great pass by (Murray) there. The goalie couldn’t really get over, so I had time to make a good shot and it was a great pass.”
The Jackets had the final three goals of the game after the Blues opened the scoring in the first period.
A turnover in the defensive zone allowed Kevin Shattenkirk to put the Blues on the board 7:36 into the game. Shattenkirk’s goal, his first of the season, was assisted by Dmitrij Jaskin and Magnus Paajarvi, who somehow passed the puck through several Blue Jackets from the low left circle.
WATCH: BRANDON SAAD'S GORGEOUS BACKHAND GOAL
A delayed call on the Shattenkirk goal (a double minor) put Murray in the box for high-sticking, but the Jackets successfully killed the penalty and, more importantly, continued to put the pressure on the Blues’ end before they eventually drew even late in the period.
Doing just what head coach John Tortorella wants his defensemen to do, Cody Goloubef led a 2-on-1 and notched the equalizer at 16:39. The goal was Goloubef’s first of the season and second of his NHL career.
And that’s one of the positives that Tortorella took away from his team’s performance tonight. Despite the Blue Jackets getting a little antsy and throwing the puck away during the third period, the overall team game was solid.
“The majority of that game, that was probably one of our biggest strengths is going north-south and getting the puck up the ice,” Tortorella said. “It was one of our better games.”
The third period featured good chances for both sides. Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 19 saves to help the home team keep their lead in the final 20 minutes of the game.
“I think as we’re stringing some wins together, we’re feeling more confident and it shows out there,” Saad said. “We were counting on them to play hard. They made some pushes there at the end, they’re a great hockey team but, for the majority, we stayed calm and stayed composed and we did a good job finishing them out.”
In the final minute, the “C-B-J” chants rang out and the home crowd roared its approval when Saad put the game on ice at 19:26.
“I really felt it was a good team win,” Tortorella said. “Everybody contributed. That’s a really good hockey club, a well-coached team. I thought we were quicker. I just liked the way we played as a team. Where we’re at right now, when we win as a team, that’s really good as far as the psychology of the club.”