If the St. Louis Blues fail to make the playoffs, their struggles against their next opponent could be part of the reason why.
The Blues try for their second win in five attempts this season against the Columbus Blue Jackets when the teams meet Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.
St. Louis (31-26-9) is trying to move back into playoff contention in the Western Conference but is currently six points behind the eighth and final spot.
However, the Blues have played well recently, winning six of seven, including a 2-1 shootout victory over the Islanders on Thursday, improving them to 3-1-0 on this six-game road trip. St. Louis is 19-10-4 on the road, its most away wins since earning 27 in the 1999-2000 season.
The Blues have lost both trips to Columbus this season, though, and are 1-2-1 against the Blue Jackets, who are in 14th place in the West. In 2008-09, when St. Louis made the playoffs for the first time since 2004, it was 5-1-0 against Columbus (27-30-11).
This is the first meeting between the Central Division rivals since the Blue Jackets’ 3-2 overtime win in St. Louis on Jan. 30.
St. Louis will go into Nationwide Arena trying to build off its latest road victory. Patrik Berglund(notes) scored in regulation and Brad Boyes(notes) had the game-winner in the second round of the shootout.
Mason will try to avoid putting the Blues in another early hole in Columbus. In the two previous games there, both of which he started, St. Louis trailed 2-1 after the first period each time.
Umberger also scored in Columbus’ 2-1 victory over Atlanta on Thursday. Kristian Huselius(notes), who missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury, assisted on the goal and made it 2-0 in the second period with his 18th of the season.
“We managed the game OK - not ideal - but I was happy that we controlled the game and did what we needed to do,” interim coach Claude Noel said.
While Huselius returned, captain Rick Nash(notes) missed his second straight with a couple of lower-body injuries. It’s uncertain if Nash, who has team highs of 28 goals and 57 points, will play Saturday. He has one goal and two assists against the Blues this season.
Columbus has won its last two following a five-game losing streak. Noel, though, is still frustrated by the lack of opportunities his team is creating. The Blue Jackets had 21 shots Thursday, including only one in the first period.
“We still got to get a lot more shots than that,” he said. “We had one shot. Give me a break.”