The St. Louis Blues won their fourth consecutive game, 5-4 in a shootout against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. However, after the game, Murray’s players weren’t in a celebratory mood. “They looked a little downtrodden,” he said. “I wanted to remind them that early in the season, they would have taken any win. We found a way to win and that’s the bottom line.”
Lee Stempniak and Doug Weight scored and Manny Legace stopped both Columbus shootout attempts to secure the victory. It marked the second time this season St. Louis has won four consecutive games – both under Murray – and gave the Blues 19 victories since he took over Dec. 12 when they were 7-17-4.
St. Louis now has a .500 winning percentage for the first time since October 21 when a victory at Chicago gave the Blues a 3-3-2 record.
They were headed toward their fourth consecutive victory before Rick Nash tied it with 14 seconds left in regulation. It was Nash’s team-leading 16th goal.
The first three goals for the Blue Jackets likely should not have reached the net. After the game, Legace apologized for not keeping the game from going into overtime.
“It was a very tough night for the fellows,” he said. “Thank God they bailed me out.”
Stempniak, who scored his 18th goal earlier in the game, went high over Fredrik Norrena and Weight made a move just in front of the net before sliding the puck in. Neither of the Blue Jackets’ shots in the shootout had a chance. Legace tipped Nikolai Zherdev’s shot high and wide and David Vyborny shot directly into the Blues goalie.
The Blues took a 4-3 lead midway through the third period when Christian Backman scored with Adam Foote in the penalty box on Columbus’ eighth penalty of the game.
After failing to get a shot off during their first two power plays and managing just one late in their third, St. Louis scored its final three goals with the man advantage.
“There were missed calls both ways and that was the way the game went,” Foote said. “We can’t sit here and blame that.”
Stempniak scored with nine minutes left in the second period to give the Blues a 2-1 lead. David Backes scored his fifth goal in four games midway through the third to tie the score 3-3 about two minutes before Backman’s goal.
Bill Guerin started the scoring for the Blues with his sixth goal in five games early in the second period.
The Blue Jackets scored twice in the final 3:03 of the second period to take a 3-2 lead going into third. Columbus took advantage of a missed penalty by the referees and Legace.
Jason Chimera pulled Barret Jackman down from behind, but with no call made, battled the sprawling Jackman and placed the puck past Legace. Columbus nabbed the lead with 2.8 seconds left on Ron Hainsey’s flip toward the net that Legace simply missed.
Columbus started the scoring on another shot that somehow found its way past Legace. Vyborny collected the puck behind the Blues’ net and skated unchecked to the goal-line before sending a shot behind Legace who failed to hug the post. Vybrony’s 14th goal of the year slid across the goal mouth and in on the far side to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
Notes: St. Louis D Bryce Salvador left the game with a lower back injury and did not return . . . The final three Columbus goals were unassisted . . . Zherdev struggled off the ice about two minutes into the second period after crashing into the boards but returned one shift later . . . Tuesday was the Blue Jackets’ first road game since Feb. 2 after playing six straight at home.