BLUES EXTRAS

Blues lose, still clinch Central Division title

2012-03-31T18:40:00Z 2012-04-10T21:26:40Z Blues lose, still clinch Central Division titleBY TOM TIMMERMANN AND JEREMY RUTHERFORD stltoday.com

The Blues clinched the Central Division title on Saturday night, their first division title since 2000 and just their second since 1987, and they did it despite losing 5-2 to Columbus at Scottrade Center.

Nashville's 5-4 loss at home to Chicago gave the Blues the title, but the loss will hurt the Blues' chances of taking the top spot in the Western Conference and to win the Presidents' Trophy. It's the second straight loss for the Blues and just their fifth at home this season.

Columbus upped thge lead to 4-2 on an extended five-on-3 power play. Kent Huskins went off for hooking, then David Backes went off 22 seconds later for roughing and Alex Pietrangelo went off 17 seconds later for slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct.

Derek Dorsett scored with 9:35 to go on a rebound in front of the net. But the Blues were still looking at several more minutes of penalty killing because of the Pietrangelo penalties, which didn't start until the Huskins penalty had ended. Columbus had an almost 6 minute long power play, much of it 5 on 3, and got one goal.

Nashville scored an empty net goal to make it 5-2.

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The Blues couldn't score on what was left of their power play and then gave one to the Blue Jackets on a high sticking call on Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues almost got a short-handed goal by David Backes' two shots from in front of the net were both saved.

In an increasingly chippy game, with 11 seconds to go in the Columbus power play the teams got into a skirmish that sent Kent Huskins and a Columbus player to the box for 4 minutes for roughing.

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The Blues will have 36 seconds of power play to start the third period as they try to close Columbus' 3-2 lead after two periods.

Columbus had extended its lead to 3-1 on a power play goal by RJ Umberger with 9 minutes to go in the second period. It was the second goal of the game for Umberger.

The Blues got a goal back in an unexpected way with 3:50 to go in the second that cut Columbus' lead to 3-2. David Perron flipped the puck from the net on a tight angle along the goal line and the puck somehow slipped into the net between goalie Allen York and the near post. York looked to be right up against the post, but there must have been a gap near his skate.

The play came less than a minute after Scott Nichol was sent off for fighting after getting run into the boards behind the Columbus net by Jared Boll. Nichol went after him and the two briefly fought. The penalties offset, but Nichol got 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.

In the game, the Blues have outshot Columbus 26-19.

Meanwhile in Nashville, the Blackhawks lead the Predators 4-2 after two periods. If Nashville doesn't win, the Blues will clinch the Central Division.

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The Blue Jackets had a four-minute power play after a high sticking penalty on Scott Nichol and had killed 3 minutes and 22 seconds of it before Umberger got the puck in front of the Blues goal. Jaroslav Halak saved the first but in a pileup in front of the net Umberger swatted it in for his second goal of the game.

It looked like the Blues had scored on a subsequent power play, but Alex Pietrangelo's shot hit the left post and caromed across the goal line without going in. While shots from mid-ice made it look like it had crossed the line, the overhead shot definitively showed that the puck didn't go in.

 

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The Blues continue to control the puck against the Blue Jackets but also continue to trail 2-1. The Blues have outshot Columbus 6-1 in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second period, but haven't been able to score on goalie Allen York.

Columbus is on a four-minute power play for high sticking on Scott Nichol.

Meanwhile, Chicago is up 2-0 on Nashville, which would allow the Blues to clinch the Central even if they lost, but wouldn't help their chances of winning the Presidents' Trophy.

***

The Blues trailed Columbus 2-1 after the first period despite controlling the puck for long stretches of the period. The Blues outshot Columbus 12-9 and killed off a Blue Jackets power play at the end of the period.

After the teams each scored with 17 seconds midway through the period, Columbus retook the lead with 7:40 to go on a poor pass by Chris Stewart pass that was easily stolen by RJ Umberger, who beat Jaroslav Halak on a breakaway to make it 2-1. It's the second breakaway Halak has had to face in the past two games after turnovers by the Blues.

Meanwhile, Chicago leads Nashville 1-0 after one period. If the Predators don't win, that would also allow the Blues to clinch.

***

Seventeen seconds after Columbus took a 1-0 lead, the Blues have tied the score on David Backes' 24th goal of the season.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk blistered a puck toward the net. Backes stopped a puck that was heading wide, fooling goalie Allen York, and then took one stride forward and tapped the puck into an empty net.

Blues 1, Blue Jackets 1 ... with 13:27 left in the 1st period. 

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A strong power move to the net by Columbus' Darryl Boyce has allowed the Blue Jackets to take an early lead. Boyce skated down the right wall, around defensemen Barret Jackman, and to the crease. There, teammate Jared Boll was crashing the net himself, and the puck went in off his skate.

After a review, officials ruled there was no intent by Boll to kick the puck in, so the goal stands.

Blue Jackets 1, Blues 0 ... with 13:44 left in the 1st period.

***

In his first game back from injury, McDonald had the game's first scoring chance, ringing a puck off the crossbar.

Blues 0, Blue Jackets 0 ... with 15:29 left in the 1st period.

*** 

The Blues and Blue Jackets are underway at Scottrade Center.

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