Berglund steps it up in new role, helps Blues bounce Columbus

From staff and wire reportsJanuary 5, 2014 

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock switched Patrick Berglund's position with hopes of getting the forward going. After the way the move paid off, Hitchcock might want to make the change permanent.

Berglund scored twice after moving from center to left wing at the start of the second period, and Vladimir Sobotka and Alex Pietrangelo each had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-2 on Saturday night for their fifth straight win, the longest active winning streak in the NHL.

The two goals pushed Berglund's total to six, after a slow first half. It was his first multi-goal game since March 7 last season against Phoenix.

"I don't think I can think about it too much," Berglund said. "Obviously, it's been slow, but if I start thinking about it, changing the way I played, that would change the way I prepared, too. I've just been working even harder in practice, shooting more pucks and trying to get it going that way."

Hitchock switched Berglund from center to left wing for just the second time since taking over the Blues early in the 2011-12 season.

Columbus, which led 2-0 lead after the first period, has lost three of four after winning three in a row.

Three of the Blues' past five wins were at home, where they have won four straight and are 17-3-2 this season. Despite injuries to key players such as David Backes and Alexander Steen, Hitchcock said his team is playing its best this season.

Backes returned Saturday after missing three games with an upper-body injury and picked up two assists.

"I think we've played some really good hockey in the last four games at home. I think that's what we're happiest about," Hitchcock said. "We've got a way of playing now. I think what we've done here at home is we've developed a balance between offense and defense."

Off to their best start midway through a season at 29-7-5 with 63 points, the Blues have scored at least five goals in five of their previous eight games.

Maxim Lapierre gave the Blues their first lead at 3-2 with his fifth goal just 94 seconds after Sobotka's sixth goal tied it at 17:29 of the second period.

Berglund got the Blues on the board about seven minutes into the second period when he deflected in Barret Jackman's shot from the right side. The puck hit the far post and trickled past Curtis McEhlinney.

Berglund's second goal came 17 seconds into the third on another deflection.

"Today, I had pretty much two lucky bounces but good things happen when you go to the net," he said.

Jaden Schwartz added his 15th goal about midway through the third to make it 5-2. Schwartz has a goal in seven of his last eight games and a career-high eight-game scoring streak, tied for the longest active streak in the league.

Pietrangelo finished the scoring with about six minutes remaining. The Blues got points from Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester and have three defenseman with at least 27 points for the first time since 1997-98.

Blues goalie Brian Elliott (12-1-2 overall and 7-0 at home) has won 13 consecutive home games, extending a franchise record he set with a 5-0 shutout against Los Angeles on Thursday. McElhinney stopped 31 shots. Elliott faced 23, making 21 saves.

Blues winger T.J. Oshie had a four-game point streak after notching two more assists Saturday. Winger Vladimir Tarasenko also had two assists and has two goals and eight points over his last six games.

Mark Letestu gave the Blue Jackets a 2-0 lead midway through the first. His shot from outside the left circle hit a Blues defender and popped over Elliott for his second goal of the season.

The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead four minutes into the game. Artem Anisimov, standing alone in the middle of the zone with his back to Elliott, took a pass from Brandon Dubinsky. He whipped around and slapped a shot past Elliott, who didn't move as if he didn't see the shot. It was the 12th goal of the year for Anisimov.

"We got off to kind of a rocky start in the first," Berglund said. "But, really, the whole team really grabbed it in the second and third."

Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold saw his first action since being activated from injured reserve. He was out since November with a torn ligament in his right hand.

Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak missed his fourth consecutive game with flu-like symptoms and goalie Jake Allen was recalled from the minors on Saturday.

Halak is expected to make the start of a three-game trip starting Tuesday at Edmonton.

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