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Blues end home skid with win over Blue Jackets

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will have four off days before they take the ice again. Having a home victory in their pockets with ample time to work on portions of their game will do wonders for a team whose next opponent is the team with the best record in the National Hockey League.

The Blues had two more chances to avoid an 0-for-February on home ice. They only needed one, David Perron's goal midway through the third period provided the necessary scoring, breaking a 1-1 tie that enabled the Blues to snap a five-game winless skid on home ice with a 2-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Scottrade Center.

The Blues were laboring on home ice and needed something to spark things on the surface that was best in the League last season at 30-6-5.

"The whole win was a relief," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team doesn't play until Thursday when the 14-0-3 Chicago Blackhawks come calling.

"We knew it was going to be hard to get back off the schneid here. A win is a win. It doesn't matter, especially with the way things have been going at home. We were expecting bad things to happen, and when we got that second goal, it was like we were a completely different team."

Perron picked up his 11th point in the past 10 meetings against the Jackets as he finished a David Backes feed, beating Sergei Bobrovsky 9:51 into the third period.

"He made a really good play to get down there," Perron said of Backes. "I made a good one before to get it to him with one hand in my stick. He made a great play to get it to me. I was driving the net, created the space behind. I kind of fanned on it a little bit, but it seems like when you're in good spots, shots like that find its way in."

Chris Stewart picked up his ninth point in eight games by opening the scoring, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 19 shots in his second game back from a groin injury as the Blues won at home for the first time since Jan. 27, snapping an 0-4-1 slide.

It was a crazy final couple minutes for Halak, who was able to keep an airborne puck out of the net, making a glove save that started a mad scramble. The Blues also had to kill off a late penalty on Barret Jackman, who broke the franchise record for games played by defensemen with his 616th game, but was whistled for boarding Cam Atkinson.

Halak had to readjust after Fedor Tyutin's shot was blocked, sending the puck into the air and dropping fast towards the net.

"I think I did," Halak said when asked if he got a glove on the puck. "I just tried to reach for it. It came out, but lucky for us, our guys were there after. We got it out. We sorted it out. We just killed it, and it was great.

"It's a crazy end for us. Taking two minutes and then being in our zone for a whole two minutes, guys did a helluva job tonight, especially in the second and the third blocking the shots. We didn't give them a lot in the third and in the second."

The Jackets, who snapped a six-game losing streak on the road with a come-from-behind 3-2 win at Detroit on Thursday, got a shorthanded goal from Matt Calvert, while Bobrovsky stopped 21 shots in a losing cause.

"I think you look at the game and we sound like a broken record, but we did a lot of good things," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said, "and maybe it's a little harder to compete in certain areas where we can finish but a lot of things we just didn't get rewarded for tonight.

"I thought we defended pretty hard but maybe we have to dig a little harder in the offensive zone, too."

The Jackets seemed to have the better of the play, outshooting the Blues 12-7 in the opening 20 minutes, but the Blues left the ice with a 1-0 lead on Stewart's seventh of the season.

Stewart took Kevin Shattenkirk's drop pass and blasted a slapper past Bobrovsky top shelf 13:55 into the game. Stewart's goal snapped a goal-less streak of 111:49, dating back to Tuesday's 2-1 loss to San Jose. Shattenkirk picked up his 15th point, tops in the League among defensemen.

"I knew I was going to put it through heavy, and it had some eyes," Stewart said of the shot. "It’s not often you score from there, so you take them when you do, right?"

The Blues outshot the Jackets 13-3 in the second period, but the Jackets scored on their third shot, as Calvert took a breakaway pass from James Wisniewski and beat Halak with 1:03 remaining in the period. The Blues' Matt D'Agostini fell near center ice trying to backhand a puck into the Columbus zone, but his pass was picked off by Wisniewski, springing Calvert loose.

"It was a real good play by [Wisniewski] and I just kind of read the play," Calvert said. "It was a weird bounce and it got to my stick and luckily it found the back of the net. I didn't have a ton of space there and you'll take them however they come."

The goal was the first allowed by Halak on home ice in the last 168:32 dating back to March 31, 2012, also against the Blue Jackets.

"We obviously said some words," Jackman said. "'Let's go, let's pull it together and respond.' I thought the boys did. We handled the play throughout most of the third period, got a lot of shots and had some good zone time."

The Jackets, who had only seven shots after the first period, lost defenseman Jack Johnson with an upper-body injury in the second and he did not return. He missed a few shifts in the first, but tried to give it a go in the second.

"That's a guy that plays 20-plus minutes for you in every situation and he's a great skater," Richards said. "This was a game that we could have used him for the full game so that was big because it put a lot more stress on our other five guys."

The win was the Blues' 26th in 36 meetings between the two teams in St. Louis (26-8-2).

"Sometimes it's not easy," Halak said. "It wasn't pretty at times, but we got it done. We got two points and let's keep moving forward."

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