Saturday, November 28, 2015

Blues slip past Blue Jackets 3-1

Upshall scores game-winner, Tarasenko has goal, assist

ST. LOUIS -- Scottie Upshall's game got revved up from the opening drop of the puck.

And when Upshall scored 6 minutes, 2 seconds into the third period that proved to be the game-winner in a 3-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Scottrade Center on Saturday, his goal celebration typified the charged up motor that Upshall displayed throughout the game.

"I was fired up; I like scoring," Upshall said. "I used to do a lot of it."

His teammates were fired up for Upshall, too.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Scottie Upshall (left) and Joel Edmundson celebrate Upshall's goal in the
third period that helped the Blues to a 3-1 victory over Columbus.

"It's rewarding for guys that don't get to play a whole lot," goalie Jake Allen said.  "Scoring goals, especially nice goals like that, it's worth the celebration."

"That was a good celly," Alexander Steen laughed.

"That was awesome; great celebration," Pietrangelo said. "Loved it.

"He has so many celebrations, so it doesn't really count. That was a good one tonight. ... He's been real good for us. He's been bringing a lot of energy, is great in the room. To see a guy like that get rewarded, comes into camp, played well. He's got four now, I think. ... It's obviously a great goal." 

Upshall, who scored his first goal in eight games, dug a puck out of the corner, skated into the slot, waited out Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk before taking a wrist shot that beat Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky high glove side. Upshall's previous goal was Nov. 7 against the Nashville Predators. 

"A puck came on my stick, kind of with my back to the net, I turned around and I can hear 'Fabs' (Robby Fabbri) going, 'Backdoor,' which brought their (defenseman) and gave me some space," Upshall said after scoring the 22nd game-winning goal of his NHL career. "I've been shooting the puck a lot lately in practice and feeling good with it. It was just one of those chances when you know you're in the slot, it's tough to make plays when you're a shooter and you're not much of a playmaker. I just threw it on net and saw it go top corner and was pretty happy."

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, and Steen scored for St. Louis (15-6-3). Allen, starting for the 14th time in the past 16 games, made 23 saves.

"It's nice to get contributions from other people," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, "but I thought (Upshall) played a really strong game. It looked like the rest did him good. I thought he played a very strong game. He thought he was on the puck, physical, used his speed from a checking standpoint, put a lot of pressure on people and was rewarded. It was a great turnover, great shot." 

St. Louis is 7-0-0 when tied after two periods this season and took advantage of a weary Columbus team that played on Friday night, a 2-1 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"One thing is depth," Pietrangelo said of the ability to win games tied after two periods. "We have a lot of energy in the third period because we're able to play everybody; that's an important thing. We have that killer instinct right now. We always feel we have a chance to win, whether down by one or up by one, tied, or whatever it us. We feel that we have an opportunity to win." 

Columbus also played the game without center Brandon Dubinsky, who was suspended Saturday afternoon by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for a cross-checking penalty assessed after hitting Sidney Crosby.

"He's contagious and he was our best player last night," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said of Dubinsky. "'Dubi' brings that and I thought for the most part, most of our guys fought hard tonight. We still have some guys that need to jump aboard as far as what you have to do to win these type of games, but 'Dubi' certainly would have helped.

"... We're not going to whine here. Pittsburgh can whine. Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league, so there's no room for any other team to whine. We just go about our business."

Ryan Johansen scored for Columbus (10-15-0); Bobrovsky made 29 saves. 

"They scored in the third; we didn't," Tortorella said. "It's the type of game if we want to be where we want to be, when your season's done, you need to at least get a point out of it. I thought we had the opportunity after we killed the 5-on-3 and got through that second  period, but we couldn't score; they did."

The Blue Jackets jumped on top in the first period. 

Johansen's sixth goal of the season came after a failed clearing attempt by Tarasenko, and Columbus defenseman David Savard picked it off. He shot the puck off the end boards, and it caromed in front to the near post where Johansen jammed it past Allen in front of defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo with 5:14 remaining in the period. 

The goal was Johansen's eighth point in eight games (five goals, three assists) and came on Columbus' fifth shot, which was 9:02 after the Blue Jackets took their fourth.

The Blues weren't worried because they felt like they could eventually wear on the Blue Jackets, but they are concerned about the lack of productive starts in recent games.

"We didn't start the way we wanted to, but once you start picking up the tempo ... they played last night obviously, it was kind of the same situation as when we went there (Nov. 17, a 3-1 Columbus victory)," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "It seemed like as the game went on, we burned them out of energy and we kept the pace up, rolled four lines, six (defensemen) and took the game over." 

Allen agreed.

"Not the best first period, but we regrouped in the second," Allen said. "That (second period) was a dominant period to watch. We changed up a couple things and got the win." 

Tarasenko tied the game with his Blues-leading 14th goal of the season after Alexander Steen was twice able to keep the puck in the offensive zone. He got it to Kevin Shattenkirk, who fed Tarasenko for a wrist shot top-shelf glove-side on Bobrovsky 2:09 into the second. 

The assist extended Shattenkirk's point streak to eight games (two goals, eight assists). 

"Even if we didn't score, I felt like that's what you want from a momentum standpoint," Hitchcock said. "You build momentum off that type of zone time and I think what we did was ... even if we didn't score, I thought the momentum we built would have had them on their heels for a few more shifts and we would have gotten a goal even on the 5-on-5 play."

(St. Louis Blues photo)
Alexander Steen (left) moves the puck past David Savard in the Blues' 3-1
victory against the Blue Jackets on Saturday at Scottrade Center.

The Blues took 18 shots on Bobrovsky in the second period and had a two-man advantage for 1:13 late in the period but did not score. 

Steen scored an empty-net goal with 54.1 seconds remaining.

"The first period, they sat back and kind of trapped us a little bit and we were a little slow with the puck," said Steen, who scored for the first time in 10 games. "It played right into the game that they kind of wanted and then the longer the game went on, we started picking up the pace in the passing. We had a feeling that this was going to turn if we just kept pushing in that direction."

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