COLUMBUS, Ohio - The St. Louis Blues insisted that their lopsided win over Columbus on Sunday was nothing personal.
Patrik Berglund scored twice and Jaroslav Halak had 23 saves as the Blues dominated for much of the game and won 6-1 on Sunday. St. Louis sent the Blue Jackets off their home ice to a chorus of boos from the few fans left behind from an announced reported crowd of 13,538.
The Blues said the rout wasn't a payback for an 8-1 setback back in November in the same venue.
"It's probably just two teams that like to play hard and guys who are willing to push that envelope," Blues coach Davis Payne said, explaining the chippy nature of the game and the series.
Before the game in November, the teams got into a shouting match in a corridor outside the dressing rooms. The bad blood carried over to the ice. There were fights, cheap shots and St. Louis' T.J. Oshie broke an ankle and missed 31 games.
The Blues came into that game with a record of 8-1-2, but the defeat started a five-game skid that sent the Blues spiralling down the standings. Both the Blues and Blue Jackets had long been eliminated from the Western Conference playoff picture.
"We are division rivals. So obviously when you play against division rivals, you want to beat them, you want to win every game," Halak said. "That's what we were trying to do."
Chris Porter, Andy McDonald, Alexander Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo also had goals, with Chris Stewart, Matt D'Agostini and Vladimir Subotka each adding two assists for the Blues (36-33-10), who have earned points in five of six games.
Payne said early leads in the meetings this season have led the teams to get even more physical than usual.
"If you look at all the games, one team has jumped ahead so it has never really been that tied, tight hockey game, a one-goal hockey game," he said. "You start to get too much distance on the scoreboard, and one team or the other team usually has some sort of a response to get their team going. That may be one reason."
Columbus coach Scott Arniel offered another reason.
"Against a team like St. Louis, if you play like that, soft and aren't ready to compete, stuff like that happens," he said. "We just weren't very good. Our compete level wasn't very good. We weren't ready to match what St. Louis was doing."
To be fair, the Blue Jackets (34-32-13) were without captain and leading scorer Rick Nash and top goalie Steve Mason.
"We just looked like we had nothing in the tank," said R.J. Umberger, who had the only goal for the Blue Jackets, who have lost three in a row. "We just looked flat."
Umberger also tied the Blue Jackets record with his 243rd consecutive game played.
Up by a goal heading into the second period, St. Louis scored twice to take control.
McDonald skated diagonally through the high slot and unleashed a hard wrist shot from the left hash that caught the top of the net on the power play.
In the final minute, Berglund and D'Agostini sandwiched Columbus' Marc Methot in the neutral zone and stripped him of the puck. Stewart fed Berglund, who worked his way past two defencemen and again beat Mathieu Garon high on his glove side to make it 4-1. Steen and Colaiacovo then poured it on with goals in the last 5 minutes of the game.
About the only thing that didn't go the Blues' way was that Berglund was unable to get a third goal.
"After you get two, obviously it's in your head," he said. "It was a fun game to play and a good team effort. It's a nice two points here in Columbus."
NOTES: St. Louis D Kevin Shattenkirk's six-game streaks of points and assists ended. ... Columbus LW Kristian Huselius played for the first time after missing 20 games with a groin-hip injury. ... Garon, who gave up four goals on 21 shots through two periods, was replaced by David LeNeveau at the start of third. LeNeveau stopped 10 of 12 shots. ... Umberger's goal gave him a career-best 56 points. He tied Jason Chimera's franchise mark for consecutive games played.
Note to readers: REMOVES reference to LeNeveau's NHL debut from notes.