Saturday, February 23, 2013

Blues hold off Jackets, snap home skid

Perron's goal snaps tie, sends team into break with win to work off of

ST. LOUIS -- It wasn't always clean. It wasn't always pretty.

But when a team is all of the sudden laboring at home, a win is a win.

The Blues got one. Now they can only hope it propels to bigger and better things.

It better now that they have four days to figure out some kinks in their game, and the 14-0-3 Chicago Blackhawks next up on the docket Thursday.

(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Jaroslav Halak makes one of his 19 stops in a 2-1 win over
Columbus Saturday.
The Blues got a tie-breaking goal from David Perron midway through the third period, and they were able to hold off the pesky Columbus Blue Jackets' late flurry that included an awkward-falling game-saving stop by Jaroslav Halak in the final half minute of a 2-1 Blues win Saturday night at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (10-6-2) were 0-4-1 in their previous five homes games. They had not won here in the month of February and needed to find a way to get back on track in a building that was the toughest in the NHL top play in last season when the Blues were 30-6-5.

The whole win was a relief," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "... We knew it was going to be hard to get back off the schneid here. A win is a win. It doesn't matter, especially with the way things have been going at home. We were expecting bad things to happen, and when we got that second goal, it was like we were a completely different team."

Perron picked up his 11th point in the last 10 meetings against the Jackets, as he finished a David Backes feed, beating Sergei Bobrovsky 9:51 into the third period. Backes avoided a hip check from Columbus defenseman Tim Erixon.

"A bad play," Erixon said. "I have to get him."

"He made a really good play to get down there," Perron said of Backes. "I made a good one before to get it to him with one hand on my stick. He made a great play to get it to me. I was driving the net, created the space behind. I kind of fanned on it a little bit, but it seems like when you're in good spots, shots like that find its way in."

It was a crazy final couple minutes for Halak, who was able to keep an airborne puck out of the net, making a glove save that started a mad scramble. And the Blues had to kill off a late penalty on Barret Jackman, who broke the franchise record for games played by defensemen with his 616th game, but was whistled for boarding Cam Atkinson.

Halak had to re-adjust after Fedor Tyutin's shot was blocked, sending the puck into the air and dropping fast towards the net with 29 seconds left.

"I think I did," Halak said when asked if he got a glove on the puck. "I just tried to reach for it. It came out, but lucky for us, our guys were there after. We got it out. We sorted it out. We just killed it, and it was great.

"It's a crazy end for us. Taking two minutes and then being in our zone for a whole two minutes, guys did a helluva job tonight, especially in the second and the third blocking the shots. We didn't give them a lot in the third and in the second."

Chris Stewart picked up his ninth point in eight games by opening the scoring, and Halak stopped 19 shots in his second game back from a groin injury.

The Jackets, who snapped a six-game losing streak on the road with a come-from-behind 3-2 win at Detroit Thursday, got a shorthanded goal from Matt Calvert, while Bobrovsky stopped 21 shots in a losing cause.

The Jackets seemed to have the better of the play, outshooting the Blues 12-7 in the opening 20 minutes, but the Blues carried a 1-0 lead on Stewart's seventh of the season.

Stewart took Kevin Shattenkirk's drop pass and blasted a slapper past Bobrovsky top shelf 13:55 into the game. Stewart's goal snapped a goal-less streak of 111:49, dating back to Tuesday's 2-1 loss to San Jose.

"I knew I was going to put it through heavy, and it had some eyes," Stewart said. "It’s not often you score from there, so you take them when you do, right?"
The Blues outshot the Jackets 13-3 in the second period, but the Jackets scored on their third shot, as Calvert took a breakaway pass from James Wisniewski and beat Halak with 1:03 remaining in the period. The Blues' Matt D'Agostini fell near center ice trying to backhand a puck into the Columbus zone but his pass was picked off by Wisniewski, springing Calvert loose.

(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Chris Stewart (left) got the Blues on the board with a goal, as he and
teammate Andy McDonald (10) battle against Columbus Saturday.
"We obviously said some words," Jackman said. "'Let's go, let's pull it together and respond.' I thought the boys did. We handled the play throughout most of the third period, got a lot of shots and had some good zone time."

The goal was the first allowed by Halak on home ice in the last 168:32 dating back to March 31, 2012 against these same Jackets.

The win was the Blues' 26th in 36 meetings between the two teams in St. Louis (26-8-2).

"Sometimes it's not easy," Halak said. "It wasn't pretty at times, but we got it done. We got two points and lets keep moving forward."

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