The St. Louis Blues used a hard-earned victory at home over the Columbus Blue Jackets to move into playoff contention. To stay there, the Blues will need to keep their win streak going on the road.
In the search of its first playoff berth in five seasons, St. Louis begins a crucial five-game trip with Sunday's finale of a home-and-home series against the Blue Jackets.
After blowing a two-goal lead Saturday night against Columbus, the Blues bounced back for a 4-3 win with David Perron providing the shootout winner. In earning its season-high fourth straight victory, St. Louis (36-30-9) pushed into a tie for the Western Conference's final playoff spot with Edmonton at 81 points.
The Blues took a 3-1 lead on Alexander Steen's second-period score, but the Blue Jackets responded with two goals in the first 8:56 of the third.
"I guess you could say that they came back, but we knew it was going to be a tough third period," St. Louis goaltender Chris Mason said. "I guess you could say it's a relief, but it's the same story with our team. We just keep plugging and find ways to win."
If the Blues want to capture their first postseason berth since 2003-04, they will need that resiliency as six of their final seven games are away from home. Following its five-game trek, St. Louis plays Columbus at home April 10 before heading to the regular-season finale two days later in Colorado.
After dropping 15 of their first 21 road games, the Blues are 8-3-3 in their last 14 but needed a 3-2 win March 20 at Calgary to break a three-game skid as visitors.
They begin their road stretch against a Blue Jackets team that is 9-2-1 in its last 12 home games, which includes a 4-3 win over St. Louis on Feb. 18.
By earning a point in nine of its last 10 games, Columbus has made a strong push toward its first postseason berth in the franchise's eight seasons and is sixth in the West - four points ahead of Nashville - with seven games left. The Blue Jackets (39-28-6) picked up a point in their fifth straight contest Saturday as Kristian Huselius and Rick Nash scored in a 1:33 span in the third period.
"We didn't play very good for two periods to start off the game," said Nash, who tallied his team-leading 35th. "To come out with a point in a game like that shows a lot of character from our guys."
A pair of emerging goaltenders named Mason have put each team in position to break its postseason drought. After beginning the season 3-13-1 with a 3.14 goals-against average, Chris Mason has taken over as St. Louis' starter by going 19-7-5 with a 2.03 GAA in his last 31 appearances.
Called up for injured starter Pascal Leclaire in November, Columbus' Steve Mason is in contention for the Vezina and Calder trophies thanks to a league-leading 10 shutouts and a 2.19 GAA in his rookie season.
St. Louis' Mason has won two of the three head-to-head matchups and is 11-2-1 with a 2.08 GAA in his career against the Blue Jackets. Steve Mason has allowed 14 goals while going 1-2-1 against the Blues.
With Saturday's victory, St. Louis has won three of the four meetings this season and is 8-2-0 in the last 10 versus Columbus. The Blue Jackets, however, are 5-2-0 in their last seven home games against the Blues.