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
”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
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
”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
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.
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.