Hitchcock, Blues play host to Blue Jackets
While Ken Hitchcock has helped the Blues vault up the Western Conference standings, his former Blue Jackets club continues to linger in the basement of conference.
St. Louis looks to extend a five-game point streak this evening and beat Columbus for the second time in as many meetings this season.
The Blues continue to rack up points since Hitchcock relieved a fired Davis Payne on Nov. 7. They have gone 12-2-4 since the coaching switch and sit in a tie for fifth in the Western Conference, four points back of first place in the Central Division.
St. Louis won four straight -- all at home -- prior to last night's 2-1 setback at Nashville. Patrik Berglund nearly scored the Blues' first goal of the shootout, but his wrister rang off the post, and the Preds' David Legwand followed with the game-winning tally against Jaroslav Halak.
T.J. Oshie netted a goal for the Blues, who got 19 saves from Halak. St. Louis fired 29 shots through the first two periods, but the game was scoreless heading into the third.
The Blues are 12-3-1 at home and will face the Blue Jackets for the second time under Hitchcock, who was the coach of Columbus from 2006-10. St. Louis recorded a 2-1 win in Ohio back on Nov. 27, getting goals from David Backes and another former Blue Jacket in Kris Russell.
St. Louis has won four straight in this series and eight of the past 12 encounters overall. The Blues have lost just twice in their last 13 at home versus the Blue Jackets.
Columbus has lost four of its last five and its 22 points on the season are the fewest in the NHL. It was also in action last night and was handed a 3-2 defeat by visiting Tampa Bay.
R.J. Umberger and Rick Nash scored for the Blue Jackets and Vinny Prospal added a pair of assists. Jeff Carter didn't stretch his goal-scoring streak to five games in a row, but did log an assist.
Columbus fell to 1-13-2 when allowing the first goal.
"We kept it close, but made too many mistakes in the first period," Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel said. "You can't get behind in this league. We had chances early on but couldn't beat their goaltender and we have to find a way to do that, especially when we have the momentum early."
Steve Mason got the start in net for the Blue Jackets and made 25 saves.