Columbus Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen, right, and St. Louis Blues' David Perron race for a loose puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The St. Louis Blues take pride in the fact they're a band of players without a real superstar.
They don't win individual awards. All they do is win games.
Barret Jackman, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko each scored in the opening 14 minutes, Brian Elliott made 24 saves and the Blues won their fourth straight game with a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
David Backes, who also had an assist, added an empty-netter. T.J. Oshie had two assists.
True to its Blue-collar form, St. Louis had four different goal-scorers, 11 different players score a point and just about everybody else contributed one way or another in a fight-filled match.
"That's what our whole team is about," said Jackman, who got into one fight to go with his goal. "We're not a team that relies on three or six guys. It's going to be a team effort every night. Some guys put the puck in the net one night and it's going to be picked up by other guys another night."
The Blues took command and locked up the two points before a crowd of 11,155 could settle into its seats.
Just 2:19 in, Jackman almost lackadaisically wristed the puck on net from the boards near the blue line. It sailed past Jamie Langenbrunner and defenceman Tim Erixon, playing his first game for the Blue Jackets, who were tangled near the left hash. It continued on past a surprised Sergei Bobrovsky for Jackman's second of the year.
It was the third time that Bobrovsky, who has been solid in net most of this young season, has been victimized for a soft goal in the first minutes of the game.
Brandon Dubinsky, a newcomer to Columbus who arrived in the blockbuster deal that sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers last summer, was angry with the way the Blue Jackets played.
"We didn't come out and play hard enough," Dubinsky said. "That's been a theme the whole year so far. We've got to come out with some fire, with some passion. And we didn't again tonight."
And still St. Louis wasn't done.
The Blues went on a power play at the 10:06 mark when Vinny Prospal was called for a high stick—and 17 seconds later the puck was in the net again. This time Berglund took a drop pass from Oshie and rocketed a hard shot from the top of the left circle for his fourth of the season.
Soon after, Tarasenko took a feed from Alexander Steen, was checked by defenceman James Wisniewski near the right hash and before hitting the ice got enough stick on the puck to get it past Bobrovski.
Tarasenko has been a revelation so far for the Blues, scoring five goals to go with four assists in seven games. He was the Blues' first-round pick, 16th overall, in the 2010 draft and has been brilliant in his debut season, leading all NHL rookies in goals.
That was it for Bobrovsky, who was replaced by Steve Mason after facing just 11 shots.
"The three goals in the first period came too easy for us," said St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock, who led the Blue Jackets to their only trip to the playoffs in 2008-09. "Then we started making puck decisions that we haven't made all year. We played a good first period and then a sloppy second period."
Derick Brassard scored for Columbus, which played on even terms over the final 46 minutes but couldn't overcome the early blitz. Mason stopped all 13 shots he faced.
After Brassard scored on the power play, it was relatively even the rest of the way—but the damage had already been done.
"I'm disappointed. It was 3-0, but it wasn't necessarily just the score," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "It was more how we were playing and how they were playing. Once they scored it seemed like we were right on our heels."
NOTES: The game was the second of a franchise record-tying six-game homestand for Columbus. ... St. Louis LW Andy McDonald played despite a lower-body injury. He hit the side of the net on a wide-open empty-netter in the final minute, provoking some jeers from the crowd. ... The Blues opened a brief two-game, back-to-back road trip. They play at Detroit on Friday night. ... Blue Jackets winger Jonathan Audy-Marchessault made his NHL debut. ... The Blues came in leading the league in fewest shots allowed per game at 19.5. The Blue Jackets had 25.
Rusty Miller can be reached at http://twitter.com/rustymillerap
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