COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gus Nyquist, Patrik Laine and Emil Bemstrom each had a goal and an assist, lifting the Columbus Blue Jackets over St. Louis 5-4 on Saturday and sending the Blues to their third straight loss.
Sean Kuraly and Jakub Voracek also scored, and Eric Robinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand each added two assists in Columbus’ fourth win in five games. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 19 shots before being replaced by Joonas Kopisalo due to injury at 6:06 of the third. Korpisalo made five saves in relief.
“We did a good job,” Nyquist said. “They are a good team. They are going to push us. We have to respect that. We have all the faith in the world with Korpi back there. We’re happy to get the win for him.”
David Perron had a hat trick and an assist, and rookie Alexi Toropchenko scored for the Blues, who have lost seven of their last nine and cling to second place in the Central Division by a single point over the Minnesota Wild. Ville Husso stopped 22 shots.
“We scored four goals,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “That’s enough to win a hockey game, for sure. We’ve got to do a better job keeping it out of our net.”
Bemstrom put Columbus on the board at 3:22, beating Husso top shelf off a feed from Eric Robinson for his first goal since Jan. 31.
“It was an outstanding start,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “It was exactly what we want to do — get skating, get moving. We did that in the first period. It was a great game for us.”
Perron pulled the Blues even at 12:36 of the first — 35 seconds into a power play — off a give-and-go with Brayden Schenn that beat Merzlikins stick side.
Nyquist gave Columbus the lead back with his second power-play goal of the season at 15:14 of the first, and then fed Laine at 3:52 of the second to put Columbus ahead 3-1.
The Blues peppered Merzlikins through the middle of the second period before Toropchenko buried his first career goal in 10 games with the Blues, off a feed from Justin Faulk, at 13:43.
Kuraly put Columbus up 4-2 off a pass from Robinson at 6:59 of the third, but Perron pulled the Blues back within one on a power-play goal just 64 seconds later, for his team-leading ninth goal on the man-advantage.
Voracek’s goal at 12:24 of the third made it 5-3, but Perron got the Blues within a goal again with 1:20 left in the game and St. Louis skating with an empty net.
“I think not playing the right way, you don’t go too far in playoffs and we’re getting there,” Perron said. “We had success for a while. I think we are not always doing it. But now it’s time to do it. Otherwise we won’t win games.”
Perron, who recorded his seventh career hat trick, has notched 11 goals in his last nine games, including at least one score in his last six. He has posted nine points over his current six-game point streak. The only Blues player in the last 25 years to have goal streak longer than Perron’s was Mike Sillinger, father of Blue Jackets forward Cole Sillinger, who had seven in the 2005-06 season.
PADDY ON POINT
Laine has a team-high 48 points and leads Columbus with 25 goals on the season. The forward has recorded 33 points in the team’s last 23 games, and Saturday was his 12th multipoint game in that stretch.
Merzlikins left when something “tightened up” according to Larsen, who said the netminder will be re-evaluated Sunday.
Vladimir Tarasenko was out of the Blues lineup due to sickness, while Robert Thomas returned after missing two games with an illness.
The Blues had not played a game at Nationwide Arena since Nov. 15, 2019.
LONG TIME COMING
“I feel like it’s been a lifetime since I won game,” Korpisalo said of his first victory since Jan. 30.
Blues: Visit Washington Tuesday night.
Blue Jackets: Visit Pittsburgh Tuesday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports