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Blues win, keep Blue Jackets from gaining ground in standings

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- Even with his back on the ice, David Backes could see that his luck when it comes to scoring goals this season might be changing.

After going 14 games without scoring a goal, the St. Louis Blues' captain made it two in two nights Friday night, helping lift the Blues to a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Only nine seconds after the Blue Jackets tied the game at 1 late in the second period, Backes scored only his fifth goal of the year, sending the puck past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky while lying on his back.

"(Alex) Steen just threw it into the middle and Jaden) Schwartz and I were going to the net," Backes said. "I went down and I found the puck on my back and I thought 'I might as well just whack this toward the net.' I've had enough blind luck hitting the post, or the crossbar or missing the net that I'm due for a few going in that maybe shouldn't. You take it any way you can right now."

Goalie Jake Allen made Backes' goal stand up through the third period, including the final 1:40 seconds when Columbus was on a power play, to extend the Blues' winning streak to three games. Patrik Berglund scored a shorthanded goal into an empty net with one second left in the game.

"Our goalie was good but the best player on the ice was our captain," said coach Ken Hitchcock. "He needed to step and he really stepped up. It was good to see."

The win allowed the Blues to increase their lead over Columbus to three points in the battle for the playoffs. St. Louis has 12 games remaining in the regular season, two more than the Blue Jackets.

"If you're wondering how big every game is down the stretch, there's no need to look any further than the standings," Backes said. "We're in a spot where if we lose that game they leapfrog past us and we're on the outside looking in. We win and get to maintain our spot."

Columbus appeared to score the tying goal 6:40 into the third period, but it was waved off because Matt Calvert was in the crease.

After a scoreless first period in which the two teams combined for only 12 shots on goal, the Blues took a 1-0 lead with 4:02 left in the second period on Chris Stewart's 16th goal of the season. The goal came on a power play after Columbus' James Wisniewski was called for tripping Vladimir Sobotka.

That lead less than three minutes, before Adrian Anisimov skated with the puck from behind the St. Louis net and fired a shot past Allen with 1:24 left in the period.

That was the only goal the Blue Jackets could score on Allen, who was playing his first game since March 26, when he was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on seven shots against Edmonton.

He was sent back to Peoria of the AHL but was recalled before he could play a game when Jaroslav Halak suffered a groin injury Monday night against Minnesota.

"It was unfortunate but those games happen," Allen said, "Whenever I got my next opportunity I wanted to make the most of it and I did tonight. It was a good win."

Allen stopped 26 of 27 shots by Columbus, including several point-blank saves.

"You have the tip your hat to the goalie," said Ryan Johansen. "He made a couple of big saves. I thought we had a good bunch of chances. Their defense did a good job of clearing pucks."

Columbus coach Todd Richards lamented the lost opportunity for his team to pass St. Louis in the standings.

"It was a game where we probably deserved a better fate, at least getting a point," he said. "But we made a couple of costly mistakes that ended up in the back of our net. We've got to learn from this game, what we need to do better, and put it behind us. We can't dwell on it. We've got to get ready for Sunday."

NOTES: Blake Comeau played his first game for Columbus after being acquired from Calgary in a trade-deadline deal. ... The Blue Jackets also recalled defenseman Cody Golubef from Springfield of the AHL on an emergency basis, but he did not dress for the game. ... The two newest Blues, defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, both played their first home game in St. Louis. ... Both the Blues and Blue Jackets were playing their second game in as many nights. St. Louis won in a shootout Thursday night in Chicago while Columbus won at Nashville. ... Both teams will be back in action on Sunday, with the Blues playing at Detroit in day game and Columbus hosting Minnesota Sunday night.
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