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Allen, Blues come back against Blue Jackets

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Scottie Upshall scored a tiebreaking goal 6:02 into the third period, and the St. Louis Blues defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 at Scottrade Center on Saturday.

Upshall, who scored his first goal in eight games, dug a puck out of the corner, skated into the slot and waited out Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk before taking a wrist shot that beat Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky high glove side. Upshall hadn't scored since Nov. 7 against the Nashville Predators.

"A puck came on my stick, kind of with my back to the net, I turned around and I can hear [Robby Fabbri] going, 'Backdoor,' which brought their [defenseman] and gave me some space," Upshall said after scoring the 22nd game-winning goal of his NHL career. "I've been shooting the puck a lot lately in practice and feeling good with it. It was just one of those chances when you know you're in the slot, it's tough to make plays when you're a shooter and you're not much of a playmaker. I just threw it on net and saw it go top corner and was pretty happy."

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist and Alexander Steen scored for St. Louis (15-6-3). Jake Allen, who started for the 14th time in the past 16 games, made 23 saves.

"It's nice to get contributions from other people," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, "but I thought [Upshall] played a really strong game. It looked like the rest did him good. I thought he played a very strong game. He thought he was on the puck, physical, used his speed from a checking standpoint, put a lot of pressure on people and was rewarded. It was a great turnover, great shot."

St. Louis is 7-0-0 when tied after two periods this season and took advantage of a weary Columbus team that played on Friday, a 2-1 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Columbus played without center Brandon Dubinsky, who was suspended Saturday by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for a cross-check on Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

"He's contagious and he was our best player [Friday] night," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said of Dubinsky. "[Dubinsky] brings that and I thought for the most part, most of our guys fought hard tonight. We still have some guys that need to jump aboard as far as what you have to do to win these type of games, but [Dubinsky] certainly would have helped."

Ryan Johansen scored for Columbus (10-15-0). Bobrovsky made 29 saves.

"They scored in the third, we didn't," Tortorella said. "It's the type of game if we want to be where we want to be, when your season's done, you need to at least get a point out of it. I thought we had the opportunity after we killed the 5-on-3 and got through that second period, but we couldn't score. They did."

Johansen's sixth goal of the season came after a failed clearing attempt by Tarasenko, and Columbus defenseman David Savard picked it off. He shot the puck off the end boards, and it caromed in front to the near post where Johansen jammed it past Allen in front of defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo with 5:14 remaining in the first period.

The goal was Johansen's eighth point in eight games (five goals, three assists).

The Blues were confident they could eventually wear on the Blue Jackets, but admitted they are concerned about the lack of productive starts in recent games.

"We didn't start the way we wanted to, but once you start picking up the tempo ... they played [Friday] night obviously and it was kind of the same situation as when we went there [Nov. 17, a 3-1 Columbus victory]," Pietrangelo said. "It seemed like as the game went on, we burned them out of energy and we kept the pace up, rolled four lines, six [defensemen] and took the game over."

Tarasenko tied the game with his team-leading 14th goal of the season after Alexander Steen was twice able to keep the puck in the offensive zone. He got it to Kevin Shattenkirk, who fed Tarasenko for a wrist shot past Bobrovsky 2:09 into the second.

The assist extended Shattenkirk's point streak to eight games (two goals, eight assists).

The Blues took 18 shots on Bobrovsky in the second period and had a two-man advantage for 1:13 late in the period but did not score.

Steen scored an empty-net goal with 54.1 seconds remaining.

"The first period, they sat back and kind of trapped us a little bit and we were a little slow with the puck," said Steen, who scored for the first time in 10 games. "It played right into the game that they kind of wanted and then the longer the game went on, we started picking up the pace in the passing. We had a feeling that this was going to turn if we just kept pushing in that direction."

The Blue Jackets lost left wing Markus Hannikainen in the second period because of an upper-body injury. Hannikainen made his NHL debut with Dubinsky unavailable.

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