COLUMBUS, Ohio – Burned once by a fast St. Louis Blues start, the Columbus Blue Jackets made sure it didn’t happen again.
Rick Nash scored for his 400th career point and Chris Clark notched his first goal as a Blue Jacket, leading the way to a 4-2 victory over the Blues on Monday.
Six days earlier, the Blues had a 3-0 first-period lead and forced Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon to the bench in an easy 4-1 win.
“They took it to us in St. Louis about a week ago,” said the Blue Jackets’ Raffi Torres, who had two goals. “We wanted to make sure we answered the bell tonight.”
The Blue Jackets improved to 19-3-2 when Torres scores.
Still the Blues, riding a season-best four-game winning streak, needed just 1:11 to take a 1-0 lead on Paul Kariya’s power-play goal and it appeared history was about to repeat itself.
“They really come at you the first 10 minutes and we haven’t been able to survive. We’ve really dug ourselves a hole,” Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We got better and better as the game went on. We really managed the game properly.”
Even after the Blues answered Torres’ two goals with Keith Tkachuk’s tying goal early in the second period, the Blue Jackets showed some resiliency.
Nash’s power-play goal 4:20 into the second period on a wrister from a hard angle gave the Blue Jackets, who ended a three-game losing skid, a 3-2 lead.
Then Clark, acquired from Washington in a Dec. 28 trade, scored on a jam shot off Kristian Huselius’ nice feed early in the third period.
“Big goal by Nasher there,” Torres said. “And the goal in the third period by Clarky was also a big goal for us.”
Clark credited his linemates for their persistence in swarming the net – and getting him the puck.
“It just ended up being right in the paint, in the crease for me,” he said.
The rest was up to Mathieu Garon, who had 30 saves to run his record against the Blues to 9-3-0.
Garon was injured in the morning skate when a puck hit him in the wrist; his availability for the game was in question. And he had been pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots the opening period of the last meeting.
“I felt great out there,” Garon said. “A couple of times I felt a little pain, but it’s not something that’s bothering me.”
The loss was not the way the Blues wanted to start a three-game road trip.
“I didn’t think we had much jump tonight,” coach Davis Payne said. “Even when we called upon it, it didn’t seem like we were able to get our gears shifted for the third period. For whatever reason, Columbus did a great job with any forecheck that we were able to establish. We had very little net traffic and very few secondary possessions. We have to regroup tomorrow.”
St. Louis goalie Chris Mason, who had 26 saves, said the Blue Jackets dominated just like the Blues had at home.
“It felt like a step backward,” he said. “That is definitely not the style of hockey we have been playing. I don’t know if we got a little bit ahead of ourselves after winning four games and thought that we were better than we were, but we definitely didn’t bring the work ethic that helped us win those four games.”
NOTES: Columbus D Mathieu Roy had two assists – the first multipoint game of his career. … The Blue Jackets put LW Fredrik Modin (foot) on injured reserve and activated D Marc Methot (shoulder). … Columbus D Fedor Tyutin was scratched and missed his first game after 132 straight since being traded in the summer of 2008. … Nash has 216 goals and 184 assists in 492 career games.