ST. LOUIS – Local product Ben Bishop starred in his first shootout at home for the St. Louis Blues.
Bishop allowed one goal on 20 shots after relieving Ty Conklin midway through the first period, and then stopped the Columbus Blue Jackets’ final two attempts in the shootout in a 5-4 victory on Monday night.
The franchise honoured four players who starred wearing No. 7—Red Berenson, Garry Unger, Joe Mullen and Keith Tkachuk—prior to its 34th straight sellout.
It also was one of the more enthusiastic crowds for a matchup of teams on the outside of the playoff hunt.
No one appreciated it more than Bishop, who played for Chaminade College Prep in suburban St. Louis and was the Blues’ third-round pick in 2005.
“It was awesome. The fans continue to support us even though we are where we are,” said the 24-year-old Bishop. “It was one of the most fun times I’ve had, winning a shootout in front of that crowd.”
Andy McDonald scored two goals and added another in a shootout for the Blues, who scored three times on four shots against Steve Mason in the shootout. Alex Steen got the deciding goal, all beating Mason through his legs.
“I wasn’t very good in the shootout,” Mason said. “Anything but a win is a step backward for us right now.”
Bishop stopped Antoine Vermette to clinch the shootout after allowing goals to Rick Nash, who scored with a forehand after getting the goalie out of position with a backhand fake, and Kyle Wilson.
“I’m not really familiar with any of these guys,” Bishop said. “I knew Nash was going to do something crazy, but other than that I didn’t really know much.”
St. Louis won for only the second time in nine games and avoiding dropping below .500 for the first time all season, and sent the Blue Jackets to their fifth straight loss.
Jakub Voracek had a goal and assist for Columbus, and Nash had two assists. The Blue Jackets need one more road win to match the franchise record of 16.
“Obviously we didn’t expect six goals to be scored after the first,” Mason said. “But we worked hard and did a lot of good things.”
Patrik Berglund added a goal and an assist for the Blues, who totalled four goals the previous four games. David Backes had two assists, ending a five-game point drought.
The game settled down considerably after a wide-open first period that featured two fights in the first two minutes and a goal by Berglund at 1:24. Conklin was yanked after allowing three goals on eight shots, by Voracek, Matt Calvert and Fedor Tyutin, and with St. Louis trailing 3-1 midway through the period.
Players on both teams expected early fisticuffs.
“We wanted to come into our building and show that we’re not going to be pushed around,” Blues defenceman Barret Jackman said. “Not necessarily fighting but the two fights happened and it definitely got the building electrified.”
The Blue Jackets won two of the first three meetings, including an 8-1 victory Nov. 10 in Columbus in which each team had 46 penalty minutes. Blues forward T.J. Oshie broke his left ankle in that game.
“We knew it was going to start that way,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. “It’s two teams that don’t like each other a lot. Usually, they’re pretty spirited games.”
McDonald and Oshie scored power-play goals in a span of 1:15 to tie it and Columbus didn’t get off a shot against Bishop the rest of the period. The Blues are 6 for 8 on the power play in three home games against the Blue Jackets this season.
The Blues made it three in a row on McDonald’s second of the game and 16th overall at 6:53 of the third when he doubled back on a wraparound and tucked the puck in. Derek MacKenzie nudged the puck over the line on Nash’s backhand on a 2-on-1 break to tie it at 10:28.
Notes: The Blues entered the game with 62 fighting majors, second-most in the NHL. Forward Chris Stewart played to the crowd, waving his arms, after getting the better of Derek Dorsett. … Tyutin had been scoreless the previous five games and Calvert the previous three. … St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak faced shots in the pre-game skate and could return from a fractured hand that has sidelined him for 11 games on Wednesday in Columbus.