Blue Jackets 5, Blues 2

There was no sign of celebration in the locker room. Coach Ken

Hitchcock stalked off after a couple of minutes at the podium.

The St. Louis Blues needed help to clinch their first Central

division title since 1999-2000, stumbling at home against the NHL’s

last-place team. The Columbus Blue Jackets caught a team perhaps

expecting to win, and then struggling to maintain its

composure.

”Obviously, if we want to be a good team we can’t play like

that,” Blues forward Andy McDonald said after the Blue Jackets’

5-2 victory Saturday night. ”We just got really worked up about

the officiating, about how things were going, and we weren’t able

to reign it in.

”It just kind of spun out of control.”

R.J. Umberger scored twice and rookie goalie Allen York made it

three wins in three career starts for Columbus. Jared Boll, Derek

Dorset and Vinny Prospal also scored for Columbus, and York

finished with 34 saves.

”It’s huge for our confidence,” the 22-year-old York said.

”We showed that we’re not the team that everyone thinks we are.

We’re a very dangerous team.”

David Backes and David Perron scored for the Blues, who wrapped

up the division when Chicago beat Nashville 5-4 not long before the

final horn in St. Louis. The Blues are second in the Western

Conference, a point behind Vancouver. A small cheer went up in the

stands when that game finished, not that players seemed to

notice.

While playing catchup in the third period, the Blues were

whistled for eight penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct

call on defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. That made it tough on goalie

Jaroslav Halak, victimized for four goals for the second straight

game.

”The officials were not the issue, not one bit the issue,”

Hitchcock said. ”We were the issue. They called what they saw and

what they saw was us taking stupid penalties. I would have made the

same calls.”

The Blues had been 13-1-1 in their previous 15 at home since

mid-January while outscoring opponents 43-16, before inexplicably

struggling against a franchise that’s last overall in the NHL. The

Blue Jackets have won three in a row for just the second time this

season, and handed the Blues just their fifth home loss of the

season, and first in regulation since a 4-2 loss to Boston on Feb.

22.

St. Louis has lost its last two, also falling 4-3 in a shootout

at Chicago on Thursday night. Hitchcock said the Blues ”showed

probably a little bit of a lack of respect” for Columbus.

”To tell you the truth, we don’t really care right now how many

points we’ve got,” said Backes, the Blues’ captain. ”The slate’s

wiped clean for playoffs, which is really the big picture.

”If we’re not playing our best, whether you’re the 1, 2 or 3

seed, doesn’t matter.”

York has been subbing for injured Steve Mason and Curtis

Sanford, and has allowed no more than two goals in all three of his

starts. This time he bested a St. Louis lineup that was intact for

the first time in 160 games since March 30, 2010, with forwards

Andy McDonald (shoulder), Matt D’Agostini (concussion) and

defensive Roman Polak (lower body) returning from injuries.

Umberger scored on an unassisted breakaway off Chris Stewart’s

giveaway in the second period, and Dorsett scored on a 5-on-3 power

play for a two-goal cushion in the third with Kent Huskins, David

Backes and Alex Pietrangelo all in the penalty box.

Prospal added an empty-net goal with 1:26 to go. ”They had a

lot on the line with clinching the division and we just didn’t want

that on our time,” Umberger said. ”Anytime we play these guys

it’s always heated.

”You know the two teams hate each other.”

Notes: Among the Blues’ scratches was D Carlo Colaiacovo, whose

giveaway led to a goal Thursday night in a shootout loss at

Chicago. … Umberger has five goals the last three games and eight

in his last six, including a hat trick against Carolina March 23.

… The crowd of 19,150 was the Blues’ 23rd sellout. … The Blues

had been 13-1-1 against Columbus at home since 2007-08.