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 win.”
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.