The second half of a home and home against the Blues saw two teams that absolutely hate eachother duke it out for sixty minutes, with the best team in the NHL emerging victorious. The winning goal was a bit of a softie, but the Jackets showed a ton of resiliency- they were working their butts off right up to the final buzzer, but fell just short.
Check after the jump for the full rundown of the evening's events.First Period
The real action started when at 1:13 Chris Stewart was sent off for high-sticking Colton Gillies. The Jackets were unable to put one past St.Louis starter Jaroslav Halak, but they showed some flashes of good puck movement.
The kill gave the Blues some life, and they carried the momentum for the next few minutes. At 5:46, with the Blues in the Columbus zone, just-activated Jared Boll set the pick on T.J. Oshie and was called for interference. St.Louis was unable to convert. In fact, the Jackets had the best scoring chance when R.J. Umberger and Mark Letestu went in on a two-on-one. Umberger kept the puck and fired it on net, but Halak made the save.
Midway through the period both teams started to ratchet up the intensity. On one particular sequence, Patrick Berglund carried the puck up-ice, and was able to draw Columbus starter Curtis Sanford out of his net. He flipped the puck across the slot to a pinching Kevin Shattenkirk, who was unable to get control of the puck and deposit it into the open net. The Jackets then turned up-ice, with Rick Nash being sprung for a partial breakaway. He went forehand-backhand, but Halak stood tall, keeping the game scoreless.
The teams alternated time of possession until the 13:51 mark, when B.J. Crombeen was sent to the sin bin for hooking Jared Boll in front of the St.Louis net. The Blues were successful on the kill once again, but the Jackets did show impressive puck movement once again themselves. Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski are nothing, if not fun to watch at the points on the powerplay.
The Jackets finished the period on a high note, with the second line of Letestu, Cam Atkinson and Vinny Prospal delivering a fantastic shift. with a pair of scoring chances.
End of the first period, 0-0.
The Blues came out flying in the second, and it took them only 1:09 to take the lead. Patrick Berglund jammed in his 15th goal of the year as both team's scrambled in front of Sanford.
1-0 Blues: Patrik Berglund (Alex Pietrangelo, Andy MacDonald)
Minutes later, Vinny Prospal and Ian Cole were battling for a loose puck when Vinny's stick got up in Cole's face. Vinny had some choice words for the zebra after the whistle was blown earning him an additional minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Jackets' penalty killers were outstanding, preventing the Blues from beating Sanford.
Just after killing off the four minute powerplay, the Jackets went up by a man themselves when Crombeen went back to the box, this time for tripping. The Jackets had difficulty setting up in the St.Louis zone, only tallying two shots on the man advantage.
Seconds after the powerplay ended, the Jackets were able to tie it up. Ryan Johansen laid the puck off for Letestu just inside the St.Louis blueline. With Atkinson setting a partial screen, Letestu fired the puck on-net, beating Halak to even the score at one goal apiece.
1-1: Mark Letestu (Ryan Johansen, Brett Lebda)
At 14:03, Chris Stewart dropped the gloves with Boll, after Boll finished a hard check behind the St.Louis net. The fight was a dud, with only a handful of punches thrown, but the Jackets did gain a powerplay when Stewart was handed a minor for roughing. The powerplay failed to bear fruit.
Slightly over a minute after the penalty expired, it was the Blues' turn on the powerplay. Colton Gillies finished a check on a player without the puck. Sounds like interference, right? Well, the ref didn't think so. He gave Gillies a holding penalty. Either way it was a penalty, it was just interesting that holding was the call. In didn't matter, however as the Blues were unable to beat Sanford.
With less than two minutes remaining in the period, Darryl Boyce laid a huge hit on Pietrangelo near the St.Louis blueline. Shattenkirk jumped Boyce in retaliation, and his inexperience with fighting was obvious- he basically bear-hugged Boyce. Neither player received a fighting major, though both were hit with roughing minors. Shattenkirk picked up an additional two minutes for elbowing.
The Jackets were unable to score in the remaining time, but would have powerplay time carry over to the third period.
End of the second period, 1-1.
The Jackets started the period with essentially a full powerplay, but were unable to set up shop, failing to get a shot on Halak. Cam Atkinson came close at one point- he's been more and more noticable of late, and I'm sure that he will start scoring on a regular basis in the short term. I'd be eager to see him play with Derick Brassard.
Moments later, David Perron gave the Blues the lead. He gathered the puck on the right wing in the neutral zone, and flew up-ice. He made it deep into the Columbus zone, wiring a hard wrister as he passed the faceoff dot. The puck had eyes, beating Sanford.
2-1 Blues: David Perron (Barrett Jackman)
The Jackets spent the next half-period applying more and more pressure, but were unable to even things up. The Jackets had an excellent chance midway through the period when Nash and Umberger went in on Halak for a two-on-one. At the last minute Nash fed Umberger cross-crease, but Halak stood tall and the net was knocked off.
The Jackets continued to press, and came very close while on a late powerplay. With Jack Johnson causing havoc in front of the net, the puck was jammed at, and slid behind Halak. The ref immediately called no-goal, and after a review the call stood.
Just seconds after the penalty expired, the Jackets went right back to the powerplay. The Jackets pulled Sanford midway through the man advantage, and though they applied furious pressure, they couldn't beat Halak.
Final Score: 2-1 Blues.
- Mark Letestu continued his hot streak, scoring another goal. He has been one of the Jackets' most consistent forwards since his return from injury.
- Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski are quickly becoming one of my favorite duos in the NHL. They are a threat to bomb it from the point, and both are exciting as hell to watch when they are in the offensive zone. Thus far, they haven't been the defensive liability that some thought they'd be.
- I have to give credit where it's due- the Blues PK has been phenomenal, not giving up a PPG against since February 14th. (Against Columbus, no less)
Bottom of the Barrel:
- Curtis Sanford would love to have the winning goal back. I'll leave it at that.
- Vinny Prospal had a rare tought night. He took a bad penalty, and wasn't much of a contributor otherwise.
- Neon Green.