Jackets chase Halak, end Blues' streak
It was a rout 10 years in the making.
Jake Voracek scored on two breakaways, six teammates also had multipoint games and the Columbus Blue Jackets rolled to the easiest win in the franchise's decade of existence, pounding St. Louis 8-1 on Wednesday night to end the visiting Blues' winning streak at seven games.
"We did a good job of coming out of the gate and setting the tone of the game," coach Scott Arniel said. "It was a big win over a divisional opponent. We earned our two points."
It was the rarest of outbursts for the Blue Jackets, the only team in the NHL this season that had not scored more than three goals in a game. The eight goals tied a club record, and the margin was the largest in the franchise's 10 seasons.
"It was fun tonight," said Voracek, who doubled his goal total from the first 13 games. "It was good to finally score more than three goals in a game. We played good from the first minute."
The rout also was a rare collapse by the Blues, who had allowed just four goals in their last six games.
"Bottom line is we understand that we can't play that way," St. Louis coach Davis Payne said.
Chris Clark also had two goals and Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger and Antoine Vermette each added a goal and an assist for Columbus, which has won eight of 11. Derick Brassard added a career-high three assists and Kyle Wilson and Nikita Filatov each had a career-best two helpers. Samuel Pahlsson also had two assists and Jared Boll had a goal.
Steve Mason made 29 saves, allowing only B.J. Crombeen's goal.
A few short weeks after being booed off the ice after an embarrassing 5-2 loss to Chicago in the home opener, the Blue Jackets received standing ovations at the end of each period from a crowd of 10,265.
The Blue Jackets had three goals in the opening 17 minutes against goalie Jaroslav Halak, who had three shutouts in his last five starts and a 6-1-1 record overall.
"We were struggling to score goals," Arniel said. "We've had individuals and lines that were working, getting chances and not getting the rewards from it. Tonight their hard work paid off."
Columbus took the first five shots and grabbed the lead when Nash followed a backcheck by stealing a pass and setting in motion Voracek's first breakaway.
Midway through the period, Boll raced around the Blues' Tyson Strachan for a loose puck in the offensive zone and then almost nonchalantly flipped a backhander from a hard angle past defenceman Nathan Oystrick that appeared to surprise Halak, the puck bouncing off his left skate and ricocheting into the net.
Halak was being pelted by pucks late in the period when he made a sterling stop on Marc Methot's point-blank attempt. While the crowd was still oohing and ahhing about the save, Brassard collected the puck at the back wall and fed Nash for a quick one-timer in the slot to make it 3-0.
"All four lines were scoring goals," Voracek said.
Voracek then added to the lead — and ended Halak's night — when he scored on another solo rush early in the second period that was almost a carbon copy of his earlier goal. Ty Conklin came on for Halak, who gave up four goals on 15 shots.
After Crombeen spoiled Mason's shutout, the Blue Jackets added two more goals on Clark's nifty 1-on-1 move from in close and Umberger's one-timer from the slot. Clark and Vermette then scored within 18 seconds in the third period.
"If we were able to get a power-play goal when it was 2-zip, instead it gets to 3-zip pretty quick," Payne said. "All of a sudden it was real tough to find some improvement in our game."