Columbus Blue Jackets\' Mike Commodore, right, knocks St. Louis Blues\' David Perron to the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 13, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Jay LaPrete)
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Unhappy with the way they were playing in the first 20 minutes, the St. Louis Blues changed direction and remained on a tear.
Andy McDonald had a goal and two assists and the Blues scored three times in the second period to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Saturday night.
"We certainly weren't happy with the way we were playing," McDonald said. "We knew we had to play better if we were going to turn things around. We did that in the second. We put some shifts together where we played in their zone, gained some momentum and we got the goals."
David Backes, David Perron, Alexander Steen and B.J. Crombeen added goals for the Blues, who have won seven of eight. They came into the game in 10th place in the Western Conference, six points behind eighth-place Calgary.
During the first intermission, Blues coach Davis Payne said he told his club it had to be more aggressive.
"Once we started to make the decision to finish our plays at their net and apply that kind of pressure, we were a much better hockey team," he said. "And that's what we talked about after the first. Sometimes you have to make those adjustments within your game."
The Blues steam-rolled the Blue Jackets the rest of the way.
"It's fun to have that feeling that we're just going to win games," Perron said. "We feel comfortable about the way we're playing, even though early in the first period we weren't playing the way we wanted. We stayed confident, we stayed the course and we just started to make plays."
Chris Mason lost his shutout with just under six minutes left when Jake Voracek scored on a jam shot off a pass from Derick Brassard.
Mason faced only 11 shots in the first two periods before the Blue Jackets mustered 14 in the third.
"Obviously, I didn't get a lot of shots the first two periods," said Mason, who finished with 24 saves. "I made a couple of saves there, but for the most part the guys did a really good job. We had a great second period. We took the play to them."
The Blue Jackets were without two of their top three scorers. Captain and top scorer Rick Nash missed his third game in a row with a lower-body injury, and Kristian Huselius his third game in the last four because of an upper-body injury.
"We chased all game. They had puck possession and we could not get it at all," Columbus' R.J. Umberger said. "We just didn't have the puck at all. It's tough to play like that."
Columbus trailed 4-1 and had a man advantage for four minutes late in the game. The Blue Jackets pulled goalie Steve Mason for a second extra attacker, but Crombeen notched his sixth on a short-handed empty-netter.
After a scoreless first, McDonald, in the mix all night on checks and scoring chances, carried the puck from the short boards on the left wing all the way behind the net and then curled to the high slot before firing a hard wrist shot for his 21st.
The next two goals were almost identical - rising shots that beat Steve Mason high on the glove side.
Just 1:39 after McDonald's tally, Backes came down the right wing on a 3-on-1 rush and rocketed a shot for his 15th.
With a minute left in the period, from almost the same spot, Perron took a pass from Steen and put the puck above Mason's catcher for his 17th.
"Those two shots by Backes and Perron were really good shots, top shelf," Columbus interim head coach Claude Noel said. "I'm not sure (Mason) could have done much differently there."
Steen had a shot clank off the post early in the third. Seconds later, he got the puck back and found the net from the point to make it 4-0.
The Blues realize they have little margin for error.
"We're probably playing the best hockey we've played all year. It's a good sign," McDonald said. "We have no other choice."
NOTES: Blues C Patrik Berglund had a career-best six-game points streak end. ... The Blue Jackets were playing the second of a four-game homestand. ... St. Louis, 2-for-4 on the power play, has at least one power-play goal in its last seven games against Columbus. ... The Blue Jackets had won three of the previous four meetings this season. ... The Blues' 20 road wins are their most in 10 years.