COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Less than two months ago, Manny Malhotra was unwanted.
He sure is wanted now.
Malhotra received a rousing standing ovation moments after scoring two
third-period goals to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the St. Louis Blues
3-1 Wednesday night.
``That first goal should be on the highlight reel,'' said Todd Marchant, who
also had a goal for the Blue Jackets. ``That was unbelievable _ it was Bobby
Picked up on waivers from Dallas in November, Malhotra has found a home on
the Blue Jackets' third line. He has scored seven goals for Columbus, one fewer
than his career best. The two in one game are a career high.
``Our effort and enthusiasm paid off out there,'' said Malhotra, a six-year
NHL veteran at 23. ``That was one of the big things Turk (interim coach Gerard
Gallant) addressed before the game _ we want to come out with energy and set
the tempo of the game rather than sit back and allow them to get chances.''
The win kept Gallant unbeaten at home (2-0-1) and ended the Blues' six-game
winning streak over the Blue Jackets.
Marc Denis had 27 saves for Columbus, which came in just 4-10-3-2 against
its Western Conference rival and winless in four games this season. The same
opponent and the same outcome were getting tiresome for some of the Blue
``We kind of wanted this night to be payback,'' Denis said. ``To play these
guys as tough as we have all year _ it could have gone both ways and four times
it went their way. It was good to find a way to get a second goal, and then a
third one, and then shut the door from there. That was kind of fun.''
Chris Pronger notched his 11th goal for the Blues, who were unbeaten in
three games (2-0-1).
``I didn't feel like I let in three,'' said St. Louis goaltender Chris
Osgood, who had 27 saves. ``Points are big right now and we let it slip away.''
With the score tied 1-1 early in the third period, Malhotra swooped in from
the right wing and wristed a shot that Osgood deflected. The rebound trickled
to the slot, and Malhotra was able to beat defenseman Bryce Salvador to the
spinning puck by diving.
In the same motion, he caught the puck in the curve of his stick and whisked
a shot past Osgood, who slammed his stick on the ice in frustration.
``I was a little bit eager,'' Malhotra said. ``I saw that rebound sitting
there, just laying there, and nobody was around so I got really aggressive and
dove at it as soon as I could. It worked out.''
Malhotra added the clincher with 4:55 remaining, crashing the net to take a
pass from Jeremy Reich. He was playing in his first NHL game and earned his
Marchant jammed in a power-play rebound for his seventh goal at 6:56 of the
first. Osgood stopped Darryl Sydor's shot from the left point, but Marchant was
there to slap the puck in off a bounce.
``Everybody contributed,'' Gallant said. ``It wasn't just two or three guys.
It was the whole team.''
With the teams a man down 1:30 into the second, Keith Tkachuk provided
traffic in front as Pronger fired a shot from the point. Denis was occupied
with Tkachuk to his right as Pronger's hard slap shot zipped past him at the
other side of the cage.
``It's a tough loss for us knowing that we probably didn't deserve to win
anyway,'' St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said.