If you watched last night’s Columbus Blue Jackets / St. Louis Blues game last night, you would never have known it was no longer a Central Division rivalry game. The first twenty minutes included three fights, as well as several roughing and unsportsmanlike penalties. For one night in Nationwide Arena it was as if the Blue Jackets were back in the West taking on their old St. Louis rival.
St. Louis got on the scoreboard first off a Vladimir Tarasenko wrist shot that beat backup goaltender Mike McKenna. Four minutes later, Artem Anisimov knotted things back up on a centering pass from Blake Comeau. Three minutes later, the Jackets took a 2-1 lead on a Fedor Tyutin slap shot from the left point that went in off Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak‘s glove. Shortly after the Tyutin goal, with Columbus on the power play, a scrum developed and Matt Calvert pushed down Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. Ian Cole jumped to Jackman’s defense and he and Calvert dropped the gloves. Nick Foligno and Barret Jackman simultaneously mixed it up a bit during the Cole / Calvert fight. Once all of the penalties were sorted out, the Jackets found themselves with a two man advantage. Seven seconds into the 5 on 3, Dubinsky fed a pass to Ryan Johansen across the slot and Johansen slapped it home. Later on the period, Chris Stewart and Dalton Prout dropped the gloves in a marathon fight that go everyone out of their seats at Nationwide.
The rough and gritty play continued during the second period for both teams. Eight minutes into the period, Jack Johnson went off for slashing Jaden Schwartz. On the ensuing Blues power play, it was Vladimir Tarasenko who stepped up for St. Louis again, when he brought the Blues within one with a goal off a wrist shot. Both teams then spent time in the box, but neither was able to capitalize on the man advantage. The 2nd period ended with Columbus ahead 3-2.
Whereas the 1st and 2nd periods were marked by rough play and penalties, the 3rd was relatively clean. The play was back and forth, with neither team gaining much of an advantage until 13 minutes in when Christ Stewart tied the game on a rebound off an Ian Cole shot. The killer for Columbus was that Stewart’s goal came 30 seconds after Mark Letestu shot over the net on a breakaway. Regulation ended with the game tied 3-3.
With the Jackets win streak when leading after two periods on the line, St Louis and Columbus went to overtime to decide the game. The extra period did not last long, as the Blues David Backes scored the game winning goal just 22 seconds into the OT frame. Backes scored off a turnover generated by Alexander Steen. McKenna said after the game that he had difficulty reading Backes on the game winner:
As soon as he made a move with his backhand, I went hard to the other side and the puck went back across, and I’m dead in the water. It’s frustrating. We were right there and definitely played well enough to win.
-Mike McKenna, courtesy of NHL.com
While the Jackets got a point, it ended a 36-0-0 winning streak under coach Todd Richards when the Blue Jackets led after the 2nd period. While it had to be disappointing to see the streak end, Coach Richards was happy with the way the Jackets played in the third:
[The media] were making a lot out of that. I still don’t mind the way we played in the third period. The effort, the competitiveness for the most part was where it needed to be.
-Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, courtesy of NHL.com
While the effort was there from the Blue Jackets, it is the second game in a row where they allowed the opposing team to chip away at an early lead. They allowed the New York Rangers to crawl back to within one goal on Thursday night, and last night the Blues overcame a 3-1 1st period lead. Expectations have to be lowered with both your starting goaltender and his backup out, but Mike McKenna played well in his first official start for the Jackets and gave them a chance to win. The Jackets failed to capitalize on the power play in the 2nd, which would have been their chance to put the game away.
Columbus is back in action tomorrow night at Nationwide Arena, where they will welcome the Winnipeg Jets to town.