Blues lose preseason home opener

ST. LOUIS — The Blues were buried early in their preseason game against the Blue Jackets under a barrage of penalties and power-play goals as the visitors jumped out to a four-goal lead in the first period.

The Blues responded in the second and third periods and made it close behind two late goals from Vladimir Tarasenko, but their comeback attempt fell short in a 5-4 defeat on Thursday night at Scottrade Center.

“There's digging a hole and then there's digging a big ditch,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We dug a big ditch and had to dig out of it. It's a good wake-up call for our veteran players, I think, to get them engaged. They just want to throw their sticks on the ice and Columbus wouldn't have any of it. They've got a lot of guys that are right on the edge of making their team. They wanted to prove it. They came out really hard. We took some penalties because of it.”

The Blues (0-2-1) committed four penalties in the first period, including a four-minute high-stick double minor by Magnus Paajarvi.

The Blue Jackets (4-0) got an early goal from Mark Letestu and then scored three times on the power play — with goals from Jared Boll, Ryan Craig and Fedor Tyutin — to take a 4-0 lead just 13 minutes 13 seconds into the first period.

“I think that whole first period just didn’t have that urgency, didn’t have that gumption that we’d like to come out with,” Blues forward David Backes said. “They had a lineup that maybe wasn’t regular NHLers, guys trying to prove a point, and they jumped all over us. No excuses. We needed to be better. I think us playing a better second, playing a pretty good third period, is a good sign, but not enough to get a win tonight.”

New Blues forward Joakim Lindstrom got St. Louis on the scoreboard late in the first period with a goal off a nifty pass from another newcomer, Paul Stastny, to cut the deficit to 4-1.

But then St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott, who allowed five goals on 22 shots, got caught behind his net for the Blue Jackets’ fifth goal in the first few minutes of the second period. He turned the puck over behind the net and Dana Tyrell banked a shot off of him that ended up in the net.

From that point, the Blues seemed to find their legs and played better.

“We settled down and started to play in the second period,” Hitchcock said, “and then really dominated the second period and kept the push up in the third.”

Backes, who fought Dalton Prout earlier in the second period, scored a goal on a deflected shot from Jay Bouwmeester late in the second to cut the deficit to 5-2.

Tarasenko, who scored a goal in the Blues’ preseason opener in Columbus on Sunday, tallied two more in the third period to get St. Louis to within 5-4, but the Blues could not get the equalizer before the final horn sounded.

“You just have to keep building off things,” Stastny said. “I think in games like these I think you take the pros and cons and then you’ve got to get better on the cons and the things you do positive you have to keep building on that, keep adding to that.”

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com


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