At least we didn't get Columbus last night. With the Blues struggling to score lately, seeing Columbus put up 10 against the top team in the league last night didn't do much to ease the teams mind. But wait, Curtis McElhinney got his first start of the year tonight so that must mean the Blues had a chance to bust out some goals.
The Blues seem to bring out the best in backup goalies, get them to play their best games of the season and tonight was no different. Coming into tonight's game McElhinney had one career win versus the Blues and, if not for the timeliness of Jay Bouwmeester, would have picked up his second.
The first period was a slog, the Jackets coming off a game last night and the Blues just not being able to start well all year. There were few stoppages but not much action. Columbus was a bit tentative, trying to feel out the Blues. Things finally got going and chippy with the Blues fourth line pushing the play, crashing the net and creating all around havoc.
St. Louis, just as in the last few games, got some Grade A looks but just could not put the puck past McElhinney. The Blues out shot Columbus 8-3 in the first but it was a disjointed period.
The second was more of what we expect from the Blues this year. All four lines started putting pressure on in the offensive zone and chance after chance presented itself. Vladimir Tarasenko had a shot glance off of the glove of McElhinney, Scottie Upshal would hit the post on a wide open net and Tarasenko was robbed point blank shortly after.
But far be it from the Blues to have all the fun as Columbus would test Carter Hutton immediately. Hutton stood tall and easily turned aside most of the attempts. Unfortunately one would slip through after another giveaway by Kevin Shattenkirk in his own zone.
When you’re only scoring a goal a game you can't give up goals like this.
As the period wound down the Blues would get opportunities to get back in the game as th Jackets would take two penalties over the final 4 minutes of the period but they couldn't capitalize. Despite out shooting and outplaying the Jackets in the second, the Blues trailed 1-0.
After failing on a hold over power play to begin the third it was beginning to look like there would be no goals tonight. But on a night when you celebrate playing 1,000 NHL games you have to score a goal no matter how many career goals you have. Jay Bouwmeester played his 1,000th game in New York on Tuesday but the team celebrated at home tonight and Bouwmeester’s parents were in town as well. So of course he would do this:
The reunited fourth line got this play started and it just shows you can’t break this line up. They don't score a lot but they apply pressure, pester anything that skates and frustrate the opposing team every second they are out there.
The third period would devolve into the two teams trading penalties and few chances. The Blues penalty kill did a phenomenal job bottling up the top ranked power play unit in the league and Hutton vacuumed up anything that came close to the net. Hutton has been solid in the limited amount of times he has been in and has been a pleasant surprise so far.
Of course this game would head to overtime and Columbus controlled the play early on, wearing down the starting unit for the Blues but not getting a shot on goal. The puck would find its way to the Blues and after setting up in the Jackets zone they would get thier first chance of the overtime. After cycling the puck Tarasenko found Jori LeThera wide open in the slot but the slap shot was met with a massive save by McElhinney.
So Vlad just said screw it.
The goal was the first for Tarasenko in 7 games and maybe it opens the floodgates for him and the team. No matter what happens, tonight was a much needed win and the Blues can make it two in a row tomorrow against Colorado.