Two teams enjoying strong starts and playing the second of a back-to-back after a victory meet Saturday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the St. Louis Blues. The Blue Jackets are off to the best start in franchise history (7-3-0) after Josh Anderson’s overtime goal beat Winnipeg 2-1 on Friday and St. Louis has points in five straight games (4-0-1) after winning by the same score at Carolina.
Columbus allowed one goal each in a pair of wins since yielding six against Los Angeles last Saturday and Anderson told reporters the Blue Jackets played the right way in the third period Friday. “It’s not how you played the 40 or 50 minutes, it’s finding a way to win a game when it’s there, when you’re still involved in it,” Columbus coach John Tortorella told reporters. “I am thrilled we win this type of hockey game.” Brayden Schenn ended a six-game goal drought by scoring the winner Friday for the Blues, who are tied for the second-most points in the league despite losing Robby Fabbri for the season and being without injured veterans Jay Bouwmeester and Patrik Berglund. Forward Jaden Schwartz has played a big part in St. Louis’ early surge and takes a six-game point streak into Saturday (five goals, three assists).
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Columbus), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (7-3-0): The penalty killing unit came through Friday while going 6-for-6 and has been unscored on in its last 12 opportunities over a five-game span to move up to fifth in the league at 88 percent. Artemi Panarin was kept off the scoresheet against Winnipeg despite five shots, but leads the team with 10 points - two better than captain Nick Foligno and defenseman Seth Jones. Anderson, who missed the first three games because of a contract holdout, has scored in back-to-back games and owns points in five of the last six contests after failing to post one in his first two outings.
ABOUT THE BLUES (8-2-1): Backup Carter Hutton recorded his third win in his third start Friday and No. 1 goalie Jake Allen (5-2-1, 2.70 goals-against average, .912 save percentage) is expected back in net Saturday. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson returned to the lineup Friday after missing the win against Calgary on Wednesday to be with his wife for the birth of his daughter and played with Colton Parayko after being paired with captain Alex Pietrangelo much of the season. Joel Edmundson (league-best 39 blocks) played with Pietrangelo, who is tied for second on the team with 12 points.
1. St. Louis RW Vladimir Tarasenko has registered at least a point in nine of 11 games and has 12 overall - three behind Schwartz for the team lead.
2. The Blue Jackets have points in five of the last six meetings (4-1-1) with the Blues, including an 8-4 triumph in the latest matchup last November.
3. St. Louis F Dmitrij Jaskin, who was a healthy scratch the previous two contests, scored his first goal of the season Friday.
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 4, Blues 2