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St. Louis at Columbus

Blue Jackets go six games over .500 for first time in franchise history

CBSSports.com wire reports
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets got a milestone victory. And still had a sour taste in their mouths.

That's either a sign along the road to respectability for the Columbus Blue Jackets -- or just a detour to an ulcer for coach Ken Hitchcock.

Steve Mason made 21 saves -- none bigger than a key stop in the closing seconds after allowing two third-period goals -- to lead Columbus past the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Wednesday night, putting the Blue Jackets six games over .500 for the first time in team history.

Maybe it's a mark of how far the franchise has come that even a win left a bad aftertaste as the Blues rallied from a 4-1 deficit with 14 minutes left to make the final minutes uncomfortable for a crowd of 14,305 -- and one anxious coach.

"The third period is why I don't like coaching," said Hitchcock, who got his 499th career NHL victory. "We played the score, not the game. St. Louis has no quit in their team. Win or lose, they play right until the end of the game. We got casual."

Still, the victory lifted Columbus into a tie for fifth in the Western Conference with Vancouver, both with 64 points. The Blue Jackets (29-23-6), who have never made the playoffs in the franchise's eight seasons, have 11 points in their past six games.

Rick Nash, Manny Malhotra and Fedor Tyutin each had a goal and an assist. Andrew Murray also scored for Columbus.

Brad Winchester, Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie had goals for St. Louis, which had won both previous meetings this season and the previous five in the series.

"We've been struggling against that team, especially this year," Tyutin said. "That was pretty big to get on the board first, to take the momentum."

The Blues scored two third-period goals to cut the lead to one and make the final few minutes interesting -- or stressful.

"We played really strong hockey against them, then allowed them to come back," Malhotra said. "Fortunately we had a strong enough lead we were able to survive it. Playing against a team like this that can sting you at any time, that's just not going to be acceptable coming down the stretch."

Mason was at his best with about 13 seconds remaining, with the Blues pressuring with an extra attacker. Brad Boyes fired a shot that the rookie goaltender blocked, and David Backes took a whack at the puck as Mason smothered it.

Last in the NHL on the power play, the Blue Jackets cashed in the first time they had a man advantage. After Barret Jackman was called for holding barely a minute in, they needed only seven seconds to put the puck in the net.

Tyutin's shot from the left point through traffic clanged off the far post and then off St. Louis goaltender Chris Mason's back and into the net. Tyutin, acquired in a trade last summer with the New York Rangers, had scored 15 goals in his first 250 NHL games and has eight this season in 58 games.

The Blues contributed to the second goal. With Columbus pest Derek Dorsett dogging the puck in the St. Louis end, the Blues' Steve Wagner braced for a hit from Dorsett as he flipped a pass behind his own net. The puck went directly to Malhotra, who quickly jammed it inside the post before Chris Mason could recover.

"It's just not playing smart," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. "We gave up a power-play goal on a poor call by the official. We just didn't respond after that little bit of adversity. Then we turned the puck over when we had full possession behind our net and all of a sudden it's 2-0. We made a mistake on the penalty kill, and we made a mistake when we had the puck."

After Winchester cut the lead in half, Nash picked up his 24th only 25 seconds later on a tape-to-tape pass from Malhotra. Murray, following his own shot, benefited when Tyutin's low, hard shot off the rebound ricocheted off Murray's stick and past Chris Mason.

Steen scored short-handed and Oshie netted a shot off a nifty assist from Andy McDonald to set up the wild finish.

"We felt that we had it won," Columbus forward R.J. Umberger said. "We wanted to get cute and fancy, run up the score. The only way you run up the score is you play the way you did before that."

Notes

  • Columbus LW Raffi Torres was scratched due to flu-like symptoms.
  • Chris Holt came on in relief of Chris Mason in goal for St. Louis after two periods.
  • Blues RW Brandon Crombeen dropped Dorsett with a straight right when the two squared off, then Dorsett pulled down the referee who was trying to help him up.
  • The last time Columbus was five games over .500 was Jan. 24, 2008. The Blue Jackets promptly lost the next four games.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Steve Mason stops 21 shots and once again makes the difference for the Blue Jackets. (AP)
Steve Mason stops 21 shots and once again makes the difference for the Blue Jackets. (AP)

Scoreboard
St. Louis (24-26-7)0123
Columbus  (29-23-6) «2204
Three Stars
F. Tyutin
CLB


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
M. Malhotra
CLB


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
R. Nash
CLB


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
01:15Power Play - Fedor Tyutin (8), Wrist Shot. Assist: Williams, Nash
17:52Manny Malhotra (8), Wrap Shot, Unassisted.
2ND PERIOD
03:32Brad Winchester (10), Snap Shot. Assist: Backes
03:57Rick Nash (24), Wrist Shot. Assist: Malhotra, Backman
17:08Andrew Murray (7), Slap Shot. Assist: Tyutin, Peca
3RD PERIOD
06:54Short - Alexander Steen (7), Snap Shot, Unassisted.
16:05Power Play - T.J. Oshie (8), Snap Shot. Assist: McDonald, Steen
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
01:08Jackman, 2 min, Holding
20:00Huselius, 2 min, High-Sticking
2ND PERIOD
04:45Murray, 2 min, Tripping
07:54Malhotra, 2 min, Holding the Stick
16:22Dorsett, 5 min, Fighting
16:22Crombeen, 5 min, Fighting
3RD PERIOD
03:58Oshie, 2 min, Holding
06:44Jackman, 2 min, Roughing
09:11Peca, 2 min, Slashing
14:07Hejda, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
Shots On Goal
 123T
St. Louis651324
Columbus99321
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Chris Holt18:3310
Chris Mason40:00164
Steve Mason59:54213
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
St. Louis1-for-5
Columbus1-for-3
Game Information
Attendance - 14305
Referees - Dave Jackson, Steve Kozari
Linesmen - Mark Pare, Thor Nelson
 
Other Games
Mon 3 Final
Wash 4
NYI 1 Final
NYR 3
LA 4 Final
Ana 3
Nash 2 Final
Det 6