Berglund helps Blues cruise past Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The prize is just around the corner, yet
the St. Louis Blues won’t permit themselves to take a peek.

Patrik Berglund had a goal and two assists and the Blues moved a
step closer to a playoff spot with a 5-2 victory over the
Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

“We got another two points and we’re getting closer and closer,”
Berglund said. “We want to be in the playoffs so bad. So we
really haven’t thought about how much we’ve been climbing, but
obviously it’s good. But we still have six games left.”

T.J. Oshie and David Perron each had a goal and an assist, Brad
Boyes and David Backes also scored, and Chris Mason gave up two
shaky goals but stopped the other 26 shots he faced.

Columbus is sixth in the West with 86 points, two points ahead
of Nashville and three in front of St. Louis. Edmonton, which
began the day in a virtual tie with the Blues for the last of
the eight playoff spots, faced Minnesota later Sunday.

The Blues have won five in a row and earned points in seven of
eight, rising from the dregs of the West to a tenuous grip on
one of those eight precious postseason spots.

“If we’re there at the end of the year, then we’ll be happy
because every night it changes,” Mason said. “We’re trying to
take care of business one (game) at a time. We were focused on
today. We’ll enjoy this one for a bit. Then we’ll worry about
our next game.”

The Blues, who beat Columbus in a shootout at home on Saturday
night, picked up four important points against one of the teams
ahead of them in the standings.

“I don’t believe in momentum, because I don’t know what it is,”
coach Andy Murray said. “I just know that every game and every
sporting event stands on it’s own. You’ve got to go out and
establish your own credibility. For us to win two games against
them is gratifying because they’re a really good team.”

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Rick Nash had a goal and an assist, and Fedor Tyutin added a
goal for Columbus, which had taken points in its last five games
and nine of the 10. Rookie goalie Steve Mason, no relation to
his counterpart, made 22 saves.

But the Blue Jackets looked listless and uninspired for much of
the game, something that coach Ken Hitchcock said could not and
would not persist.

“We’re going to have to earn our way in. Nobody’s going to give
us anything,” said Hitchcock, whose club is the only one in the
NHL never to have played in the postseason. “The disturbing part
for us (the last two nights) is we’ve had people pushed out of
the competition. That’s something we have to address in the next
24 hours.”

Oshie, vilified by the crowd for a running head start he took on
a hit on Nash the night before, quieted the boo-birds with an
early goal.

He said the Blues aren’t taking time to savor how far they’ve

“It feels good to be where we’re at, considering where we were,”
he said. “We all know we’re not done yet. We’ve got games left.
It’s definitely not settled.”

After each goalie gave up soft goals, Perron added some
insurance when he skated in unimpeded from the right wing, faked
defenseman Mike Commodore in the slot and then lifted a
backhander over Steve Mason’s right shoulder to make it 3-1
midway through the third period.

Sloppy defense led to three goals — two by the Blues — in a
span of 2:22 that put the game out of reach.

Much of the crowd of 17,095 was long gone by then.

“You’ve got to give St. Louis credit,” Hitchcock said. “They
pushed us hard — they pushed us into areas that we weren’t
comfortable. They’re relentless and they work. We have too many
people who did not respond.”