While Davis Payne is savoring his first win as St. Louis Blues coach, he also has to figure out how to help his club end its woes at home.
A matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have had their own problems winning in St. Louis, might be a good way to start.
The Blues try to end their five-game skid at Scottrade Center and hand the Blue Jackets an eighth straight loss there Tuesday night.
St. Louis (18-19-7) replaced Andy Murray with Payne before a 6-3 loss to Chicago on Jan. 3 that completed an 0-3-1 homestand. The Blues are 6-14-3 at home this season.
“It seems like it’s more of a mental thing than anything else,” team president John Davidson said. “How that happens, people that have never really played sports probably don’t have that understanding.
“We have to find a way to get our players to believe in playing better on home ice and believe in themselves at home.”
Payne’s club went on the road and lost twice before ending a seven-game overall slide with a 4-3 victory at Los Angeles on Saturday. The Blues took a three-goal lead early in the third period and held on.
“There are special wins along the way, and this no question is one of them,” said Payne, who was elevated after coaching Peoria of the AHL. “It’s the thrill of a lifetime, and one I’ll remember for quite some time. These guys battled hard, stuck to the game plan and did everything we asked of them. We were able to build enough of a cushion to get it done.”
St. Louis has not lost at home to Columbus (18-20-9) since a 4-1 defeat March 27, 2007. The Blue Jackets have scored 10 goals during their seven-game road slide in the series, with six of the losses coming in regulation.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the two worst teams in the Central Division. R.J. Umberger(notes) recorded his second career hat trick and had a season-high four points in a 5-2 home victory Nov. 30.
The Blue Jackets have won three straight after losing 21 of 24 as they try to get back into playoff contention. Mathieu Garon(notes) has started every game during the win streak and made 26 saves in a 2-0 home victory over Dallas on Sunday.
“Tonight was a great effort,” said center Antoine Vermette(notes), who scored for the third straight game. “Mathieu was a big factor tonight. He made some huge saves on big breakaways at key moments.”
Garon has gone 8-2-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average in 10 starts against St. Louis, including 4-0 with a 2.36 GAA on the road.
The Blue Jackets are seeking their first four-game win streak since March 7-13.
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t play like this for the rest of the year,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I’m hoping we can continue down this path and play this way. We’re grinding it with really good teams and we’re more than holding our own.”