It was bound to be a blue night for someone, and most people would have put their money on the NHL’s bottom-dwelling Blue Jackets.
But the Jackets stood up to the Blues in St. Louis and denied them the chance to win the Central Division crown on their own with a stunning 5-2 victory Saturday. The Blues got the title anyway when Chicago beat Nashville.
“Anybody that knows hockey wasn’t expecting this tonight,” Blue Jackets interim coach Todd Richards told the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “There are proud moments as a coach, and tonight was one of those.”
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The Jackets got two goals from R.J. Umberger, who told reporters, “They had a lot on the line with clinching the division, and we just didn’t want that on our time. Any time we play these guys, it’s always heated. You know the two teams hate each other.”
Rookie goaltender Allen York made 34 saves to stay perfect with his third win in three NHL starts. York, called up from ECHL Chicago to fill in for injured Steve Mason and Curtis Sanford, has not allowed more than two goals in all three of his starts.
“Mentally it was the toughest of the three,” York told the Post-Dispatch. “I let in that weak second one. And it was St. Louis. They’re so good. But it’s the sweetest when they’re hard.
“It’s huge for our confidence,” he told reporters. “We showed that we’re not the team that everyone thinks we are. We’re a very dangerous team.”
The Phoenix Coyotes surely will take note of that when they play the Jackets on Tuesday.
Umberger exemplifies team’s recent success
–RW R.J. Umberger has scored twice in consecutive games and has eight goals in his past six games. “There are a lot of young guys around our team right now who are working their tails off,” he told the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “We’ve had some success. That’s fun. That’s why you play the game.”
–The Blue Jackets have tallied 23 goals in the past six contests. They scored eight in their previous six.
–The Blues had been 13-1-1 against Columbus at home since 2007-08.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We probably showed a lack of respect for the opposition.” — Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.
ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES:
–G Allen York 3-1 with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage this season.
–D Cody Goloubef is the 14th defenseman to play this season, a team record. A record 41 players have played for the Blue Jackets this season.
–RW Jared Boll scored his second goal of the season. He had not scored since Nov. 23 (43 games) and had not recorded a point since Dec. 8 at Nashville (36 games).
–RW Rick Nash had two assists and has a five-game points streak.
–D Fedor Tyutin (broken hand) is out for the season. –C Derek MacKenzie (concussion) is out indefinitely. –LW Kristian Huselius (lower body) is out indefinitely. –D Radek Martinek (concussion) is out for the season. –D Marc Methot (broken jaw) is out for the season. –G Curtis Sanford (torn leg muscle) is out for the season. –D James Wisniewski (concussion symptoms) is out indefinitely. –G Steve Mason (concussion-like symptoms) is out indefinitely.