By Alan Ferguson
St. Louis (36-30-9) at Columbus (39-28-6) 5:00 p.m. EDT
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The St. Louis Blues used a hard-earned
victory at home over the Columbus Blue Jackets to move into
playoff contention. To stay there, the Blues will need to keep
their win streak going on the road.
In the search of its first playoff berth in five seasons, St.
Louis begins a crucial five-game trip with Sunday's finale of a
home-and-home series against the Blue Jackets.
After blowing a two-goal lead Saturday night against Columbus,
the Blues bounced back for a 4-3 win with David Perron providing
the shootout winner. In earning its season-high fourth straight
victory, St. Louis (36-30-9) pushed into a tie for the Western
Conference's final playoff spot with Edmonton at 81 points.
The Blues took a 3-1 lead on Alexander Steen's second-period
score, but the Blue Jackets responded with two goals in the
first 8:56 of the third.
"I guess you could say that they came back, but we knew it was
going to be a tough third period," St. Louis goaltender Chris
Mason said. "I guess you could say it's a relief, but it's the
same story with our team. We just keep plugging and find ways to
If the Blues want to capture their first postseason berth since
2003-04, they will need that resiliency as six of their final
seven games are away from home. Following its five-game trek,
St. Louis plays Columbus at home April 10 before heading to the
regular-season finale two days later in Colorado.
After dropping 15 of their first 21 road games, the Blues are
8-3-3 in their last 14 but needed a 3-2 win March 20 at Calgary
to break a three-game skid as visitors.
They begin their road stretch against a Blue Jackets team that
is 9-2-1 in its last 12 home games, which includes a 4-3 win
over St. Louis on Feb. 18.
By earning a point in nine of its last 10 games, Columbus has
made a strong push toward its first postseason berth in the
franchise's eight seasons and is sixth in the West - four points
ahead of Nashville - with seven games left. The Blue Jackets
(39-28-6) picked up a point in their fifth straight contest
Saturday as Kristian Huselius and Rick Nash scored in a 1:33
span in the third period.
"We didn't play very good for two periods to start off the
game," said Nash, who tallied his team-leading 35th. "To come
out with a point in a game like that shows a lot of character
from our guys."
A pair of emerging goaltenders named Mason have put each team in
position to break its postseason drought. After beginning the
season 3-13-1 with a 3.14 goals-against average, Chris Mason has
taken over as St. Louis' starter by going 19-7-5 with a 2.03 GAA
in his last 31 appearances.
Called up for injured starter Pascal Leclaire in November,
Columbus' Steve Mason is in contention for the Vezina and Calder
trophies thanks to a league-leading 10 shutouts and a 2.19 GAA
in his rookie season.
St. Louis' Mason has won two of the three head-to-head matchups
and is 11-2-1 with a 2.08 GAA in his career against the Blue
Jackets. Steve Mason has allowed 14 goals while going 1-2-1
against the Blues.
With Saturday's victory, St. Louis has won three of the four
meetings this season and is 8-2-0 in the last 10 versus
Columbus. The Blue Jackets, however, are 5-2-0 in their last
seven home games against the Blues.