A sellout crowd of 19,080 was on hand for a big-time hockey game Saturday night in Columbus.
Coming off Friday’s 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks, the St. Louis Blues came into Nationwide Arena two points out of the final wild-card spot out west, and winners of four-straight, six of the last seven. Saturday night's hosts, the Columbus Blue Jackets, looked to push their second-longest winning streak in franchise-history to 11 games, and more importantly, take over second place in the Metro Division over the idle Pittsburgh Penguins.
Both teams entered with stout defense — Blues 6th, 2.64 GA/GP and Blue Jackets 10th, 2.69 GA/GP — and that was the kind of game we would have tonight.
Alexander Steen got the Blues’ scoring started early, three minutes into the game, with a sniping wrist shot in the slot past Sergei Bobrovsky. Kyle Brodziak and Patrik Berglund picked up assists.
Moments later, Cam Atkinson’s goal was disallowed as he kicked the puck into the net and it was never really close to being a goal as the refs never signaled a goal. You can see the clearly distinct kicking motion.
But hey, it looked like it was going to be that kind of night early against Allen.
Markus Nutivaara had a high-degree scoring chance to Jake Allen’s left, fed on the receiving end of a pass by Artemi Panarin, but Allen made the sharp glove save snare to keep the Jackets off the board.
Later, Panarin had a breakaway opportunity off a turnover that was also met by Allen with relative ease.
Not to be outdone, Sergei Bobrovsky came up with some big first-period saves himself, stopping seven of eight shots. Allen was perfect on all 13. Columbus had two first-period penalties, with the latter spilling into the beginning of the second.
Yeah, this is what it was looking like early.
They had the right idea.
In the second, Matt Calvert also made a mad dash towards Allen off a turnover from the Jackets’ zone that resulted in a 360-spin move, shaking Blues’ defender Colton Parayko.
The shot was far-wide but it was a nice attempted effort and play.
The Blue Jackets were pushing the pace and leading the shots advantage but Vladimir Tarasenk added his team-leading 29th, just slicing the Jackets’ defense in the process. Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn also added assists on the play. Schenn leads the club with 38 assists.
Needing a fast strike, Cam Atkinson was the man to do that for Columbus, this time with his speed and stick.
The end-to-end play developed in part to a nice defensive play by Ian Cole who went down for the block and Atkinson was able to corral and pounce.
Through two periods the Blue Jackets held a 26-21 advantage in shots and the Blues edged Columbus 13-12 in the second.
Sometimes it takes a crazy bounce but it was not on this play as a lazy dump in almost got away from Allen.
With Lukas Sedlak out indefinitely after taking a puck in the back of the head Thursday, Brandon Dubinsky returned to the lineup. He only played 5:59 on eight shifts. His turnover along the boards helped lead the Blues to their first goal.
Columbus fell short despite a valiant effort as they fall to the Blues 2-1. Jake Allen made 33 saves as St. Louis wins their fifth-straight. Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 stops.
Jackets are back at it Tuesday night in Edmonton as they look to start a new streak against the Oilers. Faceoff at 9:00 pm.