Saturday, November 5, 2016

Tarasenko OT goal caps Blues' comeback win over Jackets

St. Louis still struggling to score, find way with 
third-period goal, keep defensive structure to snap two-game skid

ST. LOUIS -- This time, the Blues didn't deviate from the game plan.

In recent past, the Blues would generate chances, and when pucks would go in the net -- and they certainly haven't gone in much -- it's easy to get away from what worked in the first place.

But they stayed the course, even getting down a goal off a tough turnover, and in the end, Vladimir Tarasenko capped off a winning night scoring with 42.1 seconds remaining in overtime of a 2-1 victory against the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday before 18,245 at Scottrade Center.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Vladimir Tarasenko celebrates his OT goal Saturday in a 2-1 victory over 
the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Blues (6-4-2), who won for only the second time in six games (2-3-1), didn't exactly break the bank for goal-scoring. They've scored two or fewer goals in six straight games and eight of the past nine, but by finding a way to win when pucks weren't going in despite more quality chances, they found out it's OK to stay with the game plan and trust results will happen.

The Blues didn't do so in the past two games and got burned, getting outscored 11-2 in losses to the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars.

"The amount of times that we've been pouring into meetings over the last few days since the New York (Rangers) game was over, it hasn't been a great feeling around this locker room," said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who assisted on Tarasenko's game-winner. "I think to just finally have something positive to build off of and keeping our minds.

"... That's what's been hurting us all year, is we've been playing some good hockey and when it doesn't work out, we've kind of gone off the page and tried to find other solutions. We just have to realize at times that we're getting our chances. It may not be going in, but you've got to realize that those chances ... that's what you have to focus on is the positives."

Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester scored for St. Louis (6-4-2), and Carter Hutton made 20 saves.

"It's a battle right now," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's a battle to score, it's a battle to finish. We've got to get points. Nobody cares (how). Nobody's going to feel sorry for us. We've just got to dig in. We made some steps today. We had more people who were involved in the process; we need more. We need more people to be involved at a higher level, and if we can continue to push people, we saw some new people get engaged in our season in the right way and that's a good sign."

Tarasenko cut around Columbus forward Brandon Saad and beat Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney with a wrist shot from inside the left faceoff circle to give the Blues the victory.

"He looked like he had his skating legs today, yes," Hitchcock said of Tarasenko, who had four shots on goal of 10 attempts. "He was a determined player. He stayed with it, we stayed with it. 

"When you're best players stay with it, it forces everybody to do that. That was the thing that I was most pleased with ... we had more of our better players who stayed with it longer and didn't get discouraged with the instant success and I thought that helped us a lot."

Josh Anderson scored for the Blue Jackets (5-3-2), who lost for the first time in four games, and McElhinney made 28 saves in his first game of the season. 

The Blues had dominated the game until a Shattenkirk turnover led to Anderson's third goal in two nights. 

Getting some pressure from Columbus forward Boone Jenner in the St. Louis zone, Shattenkirk dangerously backhanded a pass into the slot, where Anderson picked it off and beat Hutton with a quick wrist shot at 12:55 of the second period on the Blue Jackets' eighth shot of the game to give them a 1-0 lead. 

Shattenkirk said Jenner got a piece of his stick to force the turnover.

"I did a good job of getting body position with (Jenner); I was trying to separate from him," Shattenkirk said. "As I went to go get the puck to push it forward, (Jenner) gave me just me a nice little touch on my stick, which whacked it right to the net-front. I've just got to protect it a little bit better and to be able to skate that out. He just makes a good forechecking play and it happens to go right to their guy."

It was still one of those oh-no moments that could crumple a fragile team. This time, it didn't.

"Even that feeling, knowing that I had made that mistake, one for me, getting to stay out on the ice and getting to play the next shift and you just felt it from the bench that it didn't faze anyone," Shattenkirk said. "That's a great thing to see, especially what we've gone through this week that we didn't let it affect us that much."

Bouwmeester scored his first goal of the season after taking Scottie Upshall's pass in stride. He stepped into a slap shot inside the left faceoff circle and beat McElhinney high to the short side 2:16 into the third period to tie the game 1-1. 

"It was a good play by 'Uppy,'" Bouwmeester said. "I don't know if they were coming off a change or some sort of transition. The whole side of the ice was kind of open. It's good when you get a chance like that."

Bouwmeester's goal gave the Blues life after they had been shut out into the third period. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (right) works over Columbus' Josh
Anderson for a loose puck Saturday in a 2-1 Blues overtime victory.

"'Bouw's shot really energized us," Hitchcock said.

McElhinney gave Columbus a chance when he robbed Jori Lehtera with a right pad save with 2:59 remaining in overtime off a one-timer from the high slot.

It was a night where the Blues got energy from their fourth line, and Hutton who was alone on an island for much of the first two periods, made the saves in the third when needed after the Blues werre outshot 10-5.

"We played a pretty sound game," Hutton said. "They came and got their chances, but we held strong and it was a good game start to finish for us and it's exactly what we needed."

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