ST. LOUIS – A perfect power play and a shutdown penalty kill led to a victory for the injury-depleted St. Louis Blues.
Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves, the Blues broke out of a deep power-play slump with a season-high three man-advantage goals, and St. Louis turned aside all eight short-handed situations in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
The Blues, who entered the game in an 0-for-22 drought, dating to Nov. 20, got man-advantage goals from Alex Steen, Jay McClement and Vladimir Sobotka.
“Quick movement. I thought we moved around well, supported each other, but the puck moved quick, too,” Steen said. “We weren’t hesitating, we weren’t waiting to set anything up. It was just the next play was there. We gave it, we shot, rebound, got it back to the point, new shot. We kept attacking.
“In order for us to be good, that’s the mindset we have to have.”
David Backes had a goal and two assists, and Erik Johnson had two assists as the Blues won their second straight after a five-game skid.
Jan Hejda had the lone goal for the Blue Jackets, who got 20 saves from Mathieu Garon. He fell to 10-4-1 against the Blues. Columbus had snapped a five-game losing streak on Monday.
“You can’t wait against a team like that that’s hungry in their building,” Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. “You can’t wait until the third period. I didn’t know if we were hesitant, nervous or whatever that word is, but we didn’t make plays.
“All of a sudden, we were just whacking pucks around. We lost a couple of pucks right up the middle of the ice in our end of the rink.”
Steen scored his third goal in two games 1:14 in after Carlo Colaiacovo kept an errant puck in the zone. McClement netted his first goal since Oct. 30 when he redirected Johnson’s centring feed past Garon with 6:41 left in the first.
“It’s been a while since I had a power-play goal, but it felt good to finally contribute,” said McClement, who went 17 games without scoring. “(Johnson) made a great play. I was just trying to be strong on my stick, and got my stick on it.”
The Blues preserved the lead by killing three 5-on-3 power plays that totalled two minutes, 28 seconds in the first two periods.
St. Louis took a 3-0 lead and made it 3-for-3 on its power play when Sobotka redirected in Johnson’s shot from the left point with 44 seconds to play in the second period.
“The power play had some extended time in the zone,” Blues coach Davis Payne said. “I thought we moved more freely without hindrance in our thought process. It was work put in over the last couple of days that these guys felt that it would break through if we kept at it.”
Hejda snapped Halak’s shutout streak 6:56 into the third period, knocking a puck in from the high slot off a broken play.
The Blue Jackets, who outshot the Blues 12-5 in the third period, continued to push, but to no avail.
“I thought we played great 5-on-5,” Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash said. “I thought we were all over them. Special teams was the difference, and not burying our chances.”
Halak, who was pulled after allowing four goals against Columbus in an 8-1 loss on Oct. 10, stopped Derick Brassard’s breakaway attempt with 4:20 to play.
“I think our guys did a great job, especially on the (penalty) kill,” Halak said. “We gave up eight penalty kills and we killed them all, so it was a huge effort from our guys.
“We had two 5-on-3s, and the guys who were out there, they did an amazing job. They were skating and blocking the shots. I don’t think they got many shots on the 5-on-3s.”
Notes: The last time the Blues scored three power-play goals was Dec. 21, 2009, a 7-2 victory at Edmonton. St. Louis was 4-for-5 in that game. … Nash played in his 543rd career game with the Blue Jackets, tying the team record set by David Vyborny. … The Blues have won 22 of 30 meetings between the teams in St. Louis (22-6-2). … Blues C Andy McDonald (concussion) joined RW T.J. Oshie (broken ankle), LW David Perron (concussion) and D Roman Polak (wrist) on the injured list. Oshie was injured in the teams’ other meeting this season. … Blue Jackets LW Kristian Huselius (lower body) hasn’t played since Oct. 23 and is out indefinitely.