Streaking Blue Jackets beat Blues

ST. LOUIS — The Blues got a boost with the return of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on Saturday night, but the Columbus Blue Jackets spoiled the happy homecoming.

The Blue Jackets got the go-ahead goal with 20 seconds left in the second period and added an empty netter late to hand the host Blues a 4-2 loss at Scottrade Center.

“I thought the difference in the game was the game was in their end quite a bit, but their ability to defend was greater than our tenacity to come up with loose pucks and score,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That was the difference in the game. … They were off back-to-back. If we would have played in the first and second like we did in the third, we could have really worn them down. We didn't play that way.”

The Blues (46-22-7, 99 points) got goals from Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko but couldn’t keep pace with the visitors as Brian Elliott allowed three goals on 16 shots.

St. Louis, which fell to 24-10-2 at home this season, got Shattenkirk back in the lineup after missing 25 games with an abdominal injury and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury.

The Blues were without T.J. Oshie (illness) and then lost Alexander Steen, their second-leading scorer, to a lower-body injury in the first period. The team had six power-play opportunities, but only converted on one of them — Tarasenko’s second-period goal.

“It’s tough,” Shattenkirk said of playing without Oshie and Steen. “It changes the dynamic of our team, especially losing Steener during the game and having lot of guys early on have to fill in and play more minutes and you know there’s just no real chemistry out their with the lines. It messes things up.”

The Blue Jackets (36-35-4, 76 points) got goals from William Karlsson, Jack Johnson, Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson and 29 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky to win for the sixth straight game and their ninth time in their last 10. They’ve won eighth straight on the road, including a 5-2 win in Chicago on Friday night.

“It’s not an easy place to play, especially back to back, both in Chicago and here,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. “It’s a good job by the guys. Six periods of, I think, hard hockey where they put it on the line. We weren’t perfect but the compete is there and that’s what you want. It leads to the resiliency and finding ways to win hockey games.”

Columbus led 1-0 early on a goal from Karlsson, who took a cross-ice pass from Scott Hartnell and slipped a wrister under the pads of Brian Elliott at the 7:06 mark of the first period.

The Blues tied it 52 seconds into the second period when Berglund scored on a nice pass from Jaden Schwartz on a 2-on-none breakaway. The assist gave Schwartz 56 points in 68 games this season, which tied the career high he set in 80 games a year ago.

Johnson put Columbus in front 2-1 with a power-play goal from just inside the blue line at with 8:21 to go in the second period.

Tarasenko then tied it at the 14:44 mark with a power-play goal, his team-high 36th of the season.

Jenner gave the Blue Jackets the lead for good with a tap-in off a nice pass from Ryan Johansen with 20 seconds left in the period.

Atkinson added an empty-netter, his 20th of the year, with 1:18 left in the third.

The Blues, who will host the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night, now trail the Nashville Predators by three points in the Central Division standings but have one game in hand.

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


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