The Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues had higher expectations than finishing with the two worst records in the Central Division. But that’s exactly how they’ll skate into the offseason when the Blue Jackets host the Blues in the season finale on Sunday.
Columbus (34-35-12) was hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time in its seven seasons in the NHL, but will finish in fourth place in the Central. The Blue Jackets have been hindered by their woeful offense, which has produced 189 goals—tied with the New York Islanders for the lowest amount in the NHL.
St. Louis (32-36-13), which will miss the playoffs for the third straight season after making 25 consecutive postseason appearances, hasn’t been that much better on offense with just 198 goals. The last-place Blues have been shut out nine times, including twice in their first two visits to Columbus early in the season.
The home team has won all seven meetings this season, including St. Louis’ 3-0 win on Saturday. Manny Legace earned his 27th career shutout, making 25 saves for his fifth shutout of the season.
Blues center Keith Tkachuk scored twice to move within one goal of becoming the 41st player in NHL history with 500. The 16-year veteran, who also has 483 career assists, hadn’t scored twice in a game since Jan. 29 at Toronto.
“Andy (coach Andy Murray) played me a lot there in the third,” Tkachuk said. “I think it’s the most he’s played me all year. It was nice. It was almost a little embarrassing, everyone trying to feed me all the time.”
Tkachuk has four goals and one assist in the four home meetings with the Blue Jackets, although he’s been held without a point in the three games in Columbus.
Blue Jackets All-Star Rick Nash had a streak of seven straight games scoring a goal against the Blues snapped.
“I thought we played really good,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We played really hard. We had a lot of scoring chances. We were outcompeted on their first two power plays. We didn’t get clears and they went in our net. We missed our chances. We missed the net and I thought the third period, we ran out of gas a little bit.”
Columbus forward Jason Chimera left Saturday’s game early in the first period with a groin injury. He’s questionable for the finale after playing in his 243rd consecutive game Saturday, the longest streak in team history.