ST. LOUIS – After four extremely stingy games, Steve Mason looked like a rookie.
The Blues’ special teams cooled off the Blue Jackets’ rookie goalie, accounting for all of St. Louis’ goals in a 5-2 victory over Columbus on Saturday night.
“I just wasn’t very good,” Mason said. “I was giving up rebounds, a couple of five-hole goals, so it wasn’t a very good game by myself.”
Keith Tkachuk scored the go-ahead goal in the second period – one of four power-play goals for St. Louis – and B.J. Crombeen had a short-handed score for the Blues, last in the Western Conference.
Alex Steen, who had a goal and two assists, said getting to Mason was an emphasis in coach Andy Murray’s pre-game talk.
“We wanted to test him, get a lot of shots and try to move him as much as possible and not let him get comfortable,” Steen said. “I thought we did a good job of that.”
The Blues won for only the third time in 13 games and ended Columbus’ four-game winning streak. The Blues beat the Blue Jackets for the fifth straight time overall, although this was the first of six meetings this season.
Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock thought the Blues’ determination to bust their slump was a bigger factor than special teams.
“They were really desperate, and they played like that,” Hitchcock said. “They had skilled players who really outworked our penalty killers.”
Mason’s run of three straight shutouts, a franchise record, ended when he allowed a first-period goal in a 6-1 victory at Colorado on Friday night. He was back in the net a day later with a gaudy 1.65 goals-against average and only one start in his last 11 allowing more than two goals.
Mason refused to use fatigue as an excuse.
“When you play juniors, you play three nights in a row, so back-to-back is no big deal,” Mason said. “
Fredrik Modin had a goal and an assist and Rick Nash had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who were held to 22 shots after averaging 29 during the winning streak.
Manny Legace made 20 saves for the Blues and is 18-4-1 against Columbus, including a nine-game winning streak. The Blues also played on consecutive nights, but alternated goalies after Chris Mason was in net for a 2-1 loss at Carolina on Friday.
“One team was probably going to play a little more tired than the other,” Murray said. “You have to try to make the other team play tired.”
Brad Winchester, T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen also scored power-play goals for the Blues, who were 4-for-9 with the advantage. The Blues scored twice in the opening 5:41 and responded after the Blue Jackets tied it later in the first period.
Tkachuk tapped a rebound between Mason’s pads on a power play to put the Blues ahead at 6:39 of the second period, which featured only seven shots between the teams. All but four of Tkachuk’s 14 goals have come on the power play, tying him for the team lead with Brad Boyes.
The Blues led 2-0 and had outshot Columbus 10-0 after Crombeen’s short-handed goal at 5:41 of the first, also getting Winchester’s sixth goal of the season on an early power play. The first goal ended a run of 25 straight penalty kills by the Blue Jackets, including six on Friday at Colorado.
A giveaway by Barret Jackman on a clearing attempt up the middle led to the Blue Jackets’ first two shots, and a goal by Mike Commodore at 7:03. Modin tapped in his own rebound from the side of the net just over five minutes later for his first goal in nine games and ninth overall, ending a flurry of seven straight shots by Columbus.
Notes: Blues forward David Backes drew a game misconduct with about five minutes left in the first after apparently cross-checking Kristian Huselius in the mouth, although Murray thought only both players’ sticks made contact. Huselius was hit after stopping just short of a check only seconds after Backes and Jackman sandwiched Nash on an open-ice hit. … Tkachuk has 87 power-play goals with the Blues in parts of eight seasons, passing Garry Unger for fourth on the franchise career list. … Nash has 10 points, eight assists, in the last five games.