The St. Louis Blues celebrated the return of their slick puck handling defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk but even his return couldn't elevate the team to a better result then what has transpired lately. The Blues suffered two blows early on as TJ Oshie was scratched due to illness before the game and Alex Steen would leave early in the first with a lower body injury and would not return. Pair that with a rusty Shattenkirk and the Blues were a stride behind the whole night.
The first period continued to be the bane of the Blues as they yet again were unable to score a goal, a streak that has now stretched to over 180 minutes of first period play. The Blues last first period goal came back on March 10th against Winnipeg.
While the Blues haven't scored much in the first, they also had not been allowing their opponent much in the way of scoring in the first either. Unfortunately, this evening was not one of those nights. Columbus executed a perfect press break in the neutral zone and Scott Hartnell set up William Karlsson for his third of the season.
The Blues would get multiple chances to tie the game in the first as the Blue Jackets were sent to the box practically back to back midway through the frame with a Too Many Men bench minor and a Delay of Game penalty. But both power plays fizzled for the majority of the advantages and the period ended with no additional scoring.
The period showcased a little bit more of what the Blues could do in the playoffs with a healthy roster. Just under a minute into the second, Jay Bouwmeester executed a nice poke check to free the puck in the neutral zone for Jori Lethera to find and he sprung Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund for a 2 on 0 break:
But for all the good Berglund did on the goal he gave that karma back a minute later when he took a hooking call in the defensive zone. Luckily the penalty killers shut down the power play of Columbus and kept the game tied. The Blues would get their chance to take the lead as they were awarded back to back power plays shortly after the Berglund minor but they could not capitilize or get many shots on net.
The Blue Jackets would regain the lead near the end of their second power play of the period when Jack Johnson's snap shot from the point found the perfect spot and slipped past Elliot's glove, off the post and in. Not to be out done, the Blues went on the power play and Berglund continued his strong game with a nice pass to Tarasenko:
As the period wound down, the Blues continued to press the Blue Jackets goal but it was an unfortunate bounce that would change the complexion of the game as the clock approached zero.
Going into the third period the Blues knew that Columbus was trying to extend a seven game road winning streak and they threw everything they could at Sergei Bobrovsky. But "Bob" has slowly been reverting back to his Vezina Trophy winning self of old and he turned away every shot put his way in the third. The Blues finally looked like they were getting into the game as they out shot Columbus 13-3 in the third.
It, unfortunately, was not enough as Columbus tightened defensively and never really let the Blues get much zone time, just a lot of one and done situations. Finally with 2:00 to go Coach Hitch pulled Elliot with the face off in the offensive zone, but Columbus would gain control of the puck and Cam Atkinson would add another goal to his season total as he put the puck in the empty net.
The loss leaves the Blues three points back of Nashville with only one game in hand, so this loss stings as we now need Nashville to lose an additional game in order for the Blues to regain the top spot in the Central. Monday night brings the Vancouver Canucks to town and an opportunity to get back to our winning ways. The hope is Oshie and Steen will be back and available that night as well. Until then the Blues need to get Shattenkirk some more reps and and find some first period goal scoring or the first round is all we will see.
#3 - Sergei Bobrovsky 29 Saves, Win
#2 - Patrik Berglund 1 Goal and 1 Assist
#1 - Boone Jenner GWG and 1 Assist