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Johnson's OT goal keeps Blues in race

by Brian Compton
The St. Louis Blues aren't done just yet.

Erik Johnson's power-play tally with 61 seconds remaining in overtime kept Davis Payne's club's playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.

St. Louis, which struggled all season on home ice, has now won five in a row at the Scottrade Center. Andy McDonald had a goal and an assist, while Chris Mason stopped 27 shots.

The Blues (39-31-9) are four points behind the eighth-place Colorado Avalanche with three games remaining. Colorado swept St. Louis this season and thus has the tiebreaker.

''You want to kind of have your fate in your own hands,'' Johnson said after scoring his 10th goal of the season. ''But we're in this position and we'll have to see what other teams do.''

St. Louis avoided elimination by taking the game to overtime. Even with their five straight wins at home, the Blues are still under .500 in their rink (17-18-5).

The Avs can eliminate the Blues on Tuesday with a win at Vancouver.

''It's do-or-die for us every game,'' Johnson said. ''We're not out of it yet. We're going to keep fighting every game, win every game we can.''

Derick Brassard scored a power-play goal 3:10 into the game and Mathieu Garon made 32 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have lost three in a row. The Blues -- who went more than 12 minutes before notching their first shot on goal -- were awarded a power play in overtime when Marc Methot was whistled for holding with 1:43 left, and Johnson ended the game with a blast from the point.

Blue Jackets leading scorer Rick Nash (upper body) was scratched after participating in the morning skate and center Andy Murray was sidelined by a blow to the head when Keith Tkachuk elbowed him into the boards late in the first period.

''I thought we played with a tremendous amount of courage, as short as we were,'' Columbus coach Claude Noel said.

McDonald scored his 23rd goal and second in three games when David Perron sent him in on a breakaway, as he beat Garon to erase a 1-0 deficit midway through the second period.

"There's not a lot of room for error here,'' McDonald said. ''We've played extremely well, I think, the last couple months and we've got to keep going. Obviously, we need some help.''

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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