COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — In a game matching teams going in different directions, everything got turned upside down.
Nick Foligno set a career high with his 19th and 20th goals of the season and also had an assist, and the Columbus Blue Jackets had their most productive game in a 7-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
The defeat ended the Blues’ seven-game winning streak and franchise-record 13-game points streak (12-0-1) — and the Blue Jackets’ three-game skid.
“We’re not in any position to relax,” Foligno said of the Blue Jackets, who began the night closer to the worst record in the NHL than the last playoff spot. “That’s honestly the momentum now. We don’t have the room to take a shift off, a period off. We need to continue to work and to try and win.”
Ryan Johansen scored his first NHL short-handed goal, Corey Tropp tallied for the first time in 66 games and Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert and Scott Hartnell also scored for Columbus. Curtis McElhinney had 32 saves and Brandon Dubinsky had two assists. Johansen also had two assists and Tropp and Hartnell added helpers.
“We capitalized on our opportunities and didn’t give them too much,” Johansen said. “I’m really happy with the effort.”
St. Louis started the night just two points behind Anaheim for the best record in the league.
“We knew it was going to be a tall task,” Dubinsky said. “We came out and played the way we’re capable.”
Riddled by injuries, the Blue Jackets had been stumbling for the last month. They had lost four of their last five at home. The seven goals were a season-high.
“I don’t know if we needed necessarily a 7-1 game, but we needed a win,” coach Todd Richards said. “They’re a very, very good hockey team. Obviously, to win 7-1 leaves you with a good feeling.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had a decidedly bad feeling.
“That was a rested team. They outplayed us. We looked unfocused at times,” he said. “We’ve kind of trended this way for the last three games. It caught up to us. This team finished us off.”
The Blue Jackets, who hadn’t scored more than once in their last two games, notched two goals in the opening period. Both required baseball swings on high pucks.
At the 10:44 mark, Dubinsky squeezed off a shot from the top of the right circle. Foligno, whose previous season high was 18 goals in 70 games last season, crashed the net and, when the rebound off Elliott came out waist high, batted it into the net. It was his first goal in 10 games.
Atkinson then duplicated what Foligno did. Johansen’s pass glanced off the stick of a Blues player and then off the helmet of Hartnell and took a weird, quirky bounce. It ricocheted off the back bar at the top of the net and to the crease where Atkinson bunted it past a surprised Elliott.
Artem Anisimov intercepted David Backes’ pass in the defensive zone and fed Johansen, who was almost knocked off his skates by a defender’s stick. But he regained his balance and the puck and swooped in for his 20th goal on a breakaway.
Elliott’s night was done soon after. He was replaced by Jake Allen after the Blue Jackets’ fourth goal on 14 shots — a redirection by Tropp for his first goal since December 2013.
The Blues finally got on the board midway through the second on Stastny’s power-play goal from a sharp angle. But by then it was already 4-0.
“That was one of those games where nothing really went our way,” St. Louis forward Alexander Steen said. “We didn’t play hard enough or smart enough. There’s not much more to say about tonight. We weren’t good enough.”
NOTES: D James Wisniewski played in his 200th Blue Jackets game. … The Blues won 3-0 in Buffalo on Thursday night before flying into Ohio’s capital city while Columbus stayed at home after Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Arizona. … Hartnell played in his 998th NHL game. He’s on pace to play in his 1,000th on Monday at home against Los Angeles. … The Blues, who had won five of their last six meetings with the Blue Jackets, now return home for two games. … It was the 10th time in franchise history Columbus has scored at least seven goals.
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