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Blues' Jackman has knack for timely playoff goals

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Asked if his game-winning goal Saturday in the Western Conference First Round against the Chicago Blackhawks meant more than the one he scored against the Los Angeles Kings in the conference quarterfinals a year ago, St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman offered a proper perspective.

"I'll let you know at the end of the playoffs," Jackman said with a smile.

Barret Jackman
Defense - STL
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 2 | +/-: 1
Like his goal a year ago, the goal against the Blackhawks put St. Louis up 2-0 in a best-of-7 series. But the Blues lost four straight to the Kings last year and saw their season end. They hope history doesn't repeat itself this year, and they can take a step toward that goal by beating the Blackhawks in Game 3 of their first-round series Monday (8:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDSI, FS-MW, CSN-CH).

But for Jackman, whose game-winner 5:50 into overtime in Game 2 put the Blues up 2-0 in its series against the defending Stanley Cup champs, goal-scoring isn't his craft.

From the time that the 33-year-old Jackman, the 17th player taken in the 1999 NHL Draft, laced up the skates for the first time in his NHL career, his game has revolved around being a stay-at-home defenseman with a physical element. He's mentored many of the Blues' young defensive corps, who have blossomed in a system where Jackman began his career under the likes of Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis.

"It seems to get easier and easier for him," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said of Jackman. "We'll see if he's got a couple more to add in here.

"He plays a game that doesn't get a lot of credit and people don't recognize, but he does a lot of great things out there and he earned this goal [Saturday]."

Jackman, who has 26 goals and 166 points in 723 regular-season games, certainly doesn't consider himself a goal-scorer. But he's glad to pitch in from time to time.

"I guess I save them up in my career for special moments," Jackman said. "It's nice to chip in offensively once in a while and get a big goal like that."

As one of the veteran leaders on the team, Jackman is counted on to help keep the Blues focused. Although St. Louis leads the series against Chicago 2-0 after a pair of overtime wins at home, veterans such as Jackman won't allow their teammates to get complacent. The Blues are looking to learn from the painful experience of a year ago.

"It's a different year," said Jackman, who has two goals and six points in 29 career Stanley Cup Playoff games. "We're a team that's confident. We know there's nothing taken for granted.

"We'll go into a very hostile environment in Chicago and they're a team that's got a lot of experience and will show no quit. We expect more of the same type of game as [Saturday], hard-hitting, physical and right to the end."

Coach Ken Hitchcock likes Jackman's laid-back approach.

"He keeps things calm back there," Hitchcock said. "He understands situations and has been around long enough to know not to get too hyped up for any situation.

"It's easy to pair him with anyone back there; he's fit in with anyone we've paired him with in the past, whether it's [Alex Pietrangelo], Shattenkirk, [Roman] Polak, whoever."

Jackman has played most of the season with the offensive-minded Shattenkirk. Maybe Shattenkirk's offensive instincts are rubbing off to a certain degree.

"I'd like to think that I've given him a couple tips along the way here," Shattenkirk joked. "He played a great game, a great defensive game, and he gets a couple chances here or there to shoot the puck from the point, and he really laid into that [goal]. It was the type of shot you get to the net and see what happens."

Jackman's two postseason goals have been crucial for the Blues. This time around, he hopes it contributes to a series victory.

"I think the character of our team came through again," Jackman said of the victory Saturday. "You get a two-goal lead and give it up, but we battled to the end. We've taken some big hits and kept our composure. In the end, one squeaks in and we get the win again."

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