The Jackets were coming off a 2-0 shutout of the Coyotes on Thursday, a game that saw the debut of Nathan Horton. Horton made an immediate impact, scoring the opening-powerplay-game-winning-goal. Curtis McElhinney earned the clean sheet, and was rewarded with the start tonight against the Blues, even with a healthy Sergei Bobrovsky on the roster. The Blues countered with Brian Elliott.
The Jackets pressured the Blues early, giving St.Louis a taste of their own style. The Jackets had the first great scoring chance of the game, during a great shift by the Ryan Johansen line. Todd Richards deployed the Artem Anisimov line right after, where the three forwards hemmed the Blues deep in their zone. Brandon Dubinsky put on a one-man show, shaking off defenders while Anisimov and Nathan Horton found ideal patches of real estate. Anisimov planted his flag in the slot, where Dubinsky fed him the puck. A spin and snipe later, and Anisimov had given the Jackets the lead.
1-0 Jackets: Anisimov - Dubinsky, Murray
Midway through the opening period, the Jackets earned the first powerplay of the game when Jaden Schwartz was whistled for interference.The entries into the offensive zone were sluggish, and the Blues were able to kill the penalty.
Seconds after the conclusion of the powerplay, Mark Letestu was able to break a personal goal-less drought and give the Jackets a two-goal lead. It was a typical greaser, with Letestu wiring a shot from the half boards toward the net. The puck was deflected upward, and landed behind Elliott and into the net.
2-0 Jackets: Letestu - Comeau
A big takeaway from the first period was the physicality of the Jackets. They were dishing out big hits all over the ice, and really winning the physical battles. Jack Johnson was especially physical, leading his teammates by example. He was no doubt devastated by not making Team USA, and in these past two games he has been a man on fire.
The Jackets played a perfect road period against a team that's nearly unbeatable at home.
Ken HItchcock no doubt voiced his displeasure with his team's opening period, but the Blues were still losing the battles against the Jackets to open the second frame. Boone Jenner, who was back to his natural center position, led his fourth line teammates in some high-energy, hard-working shifts.
Cam Atkinson is a member of said fourth line, and I wonder where he fits long-term. Now, I'm not trying to stir up any sort of controversy here, but Horton is locked-in to one of the top right wing slots, and the coaching staff seems loathe to take R.J. Umberger off of Johansen's wing. (and why would they, give his strong play?) Cam is far too talented to get fourth line minutes. All of that said, that's depth, baby!
The Blues were able to get on the board midway through the period. Barret Jackman, aka the guy who stole Rick Nash's Calder Trophy, blasted a shot from the right point on-net. It pinballed off of a handful of sticks and body parts before beating McElhinney.
2-1 Jackets: Berglund - Jackman, Shattenkirk
The goal gave the Blues some life, and got the crowd going. After some back-and-forth play, Fedor Tyutin was called for a penalty, giving the Blues their first powerplay of the game. Thanks to some strong penalty-killing by the duo of Dubinsky and Anisimov, the penalty was killed.
The back-and-forth play continued, but the Blues were able to tie it up with a little over four minutes left in the period. Vladimir Tarasenko carried the puck into the Jackets' zone, and after McElhinney made a save the puck found its way to Vladimir Sobotka's stick.
2-2: Sobotka - Tarasenko, Shattenkirk
Only moments later the Blues continued their onslaught. On a goal that McElhinney would love to have back, Max Lapierre entered the zone, wound up for a slapper, and fired it into the Columbus net.
3-2 Blues: Lapierre - Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester
The Jackets got away from the physicality and structure that won them the opening period. The Blues tilted the ice in their favor, putting up three unanswered goals.
The second intermission didn't stop the assault on the Columbus net. Just 14 seconds into the third, Patrik Berglund gave his team a two goal lead when he redirected a shot from Tarasenko as he skated in front of the net. It was a slow-motion play, with Berglund just having his stick in the right place at the right time.
4-2 Blues: Berglund - Tarasenko, Sobotka
The Blues were imposing their will on the Jackets after scoring their fourth-straight goal. They continued to deny Columbus entry into the offensive zone, and completely turned the tables physically.
I don't think I'm alone when I say that at times this season McElhinney has looked shaky more often than not. In the latter two periods, he was fighting the puck a lot, and looked especially so on the Blues' fifth consecutive goal. David Backes threw a shot on net that McElhinney fought off, but was completely out of position to stop Jaden Schwartz, who was on the doorstep to deposit the rebound.
5-2 Blues: Schwartz - Backes, Oshie
McElhinney was beaten by yet another soft goal to give the Blues a half-dozen. Pietrangelo gathered the puck low, and from a sharp angle wired the puck toward the net. The Columbus keeper was out of position and was beaten.
6-2 Blues: Pietrangelo - Oshie, Backes
The Jackets remained on their heels for the rest of the game, but mercifully, the Blues didn't score any more goals.
FINAL SCORE: 6-2 Blues
1) The Jackets- for the first twenty minutes. They played a perfect road period.
2) The Blues had seven players with multi-point games.
3) I've said it before, and I'll say it again- I really like Jody Shelley as the third man between the benches.
BOTTOM OF THE BARREL
1) Curtis McElhinney did not give the Jackets good goaltending tonight. Goalie Bob is back in net on Monday.
2) The Jackets failed to bring the compete level they showed in the first period over the final 40 minutes.
ADVANCED STATS FOR THE GAME: EXTRA SKATER
The Jackets are back in action on Monday when they take on Rick Nash and the Rangers in Manhattan.