By Rob Rains
The Blues flipped the script on Thursday night. Instead of waiting until the third period to cough up a lead, they decided to do it earlier.
After scoring the first two goals of the game, the Blues took a 2-1 lead into the second period only to see Columbus score twice on their first four shots of the period to take the lead, then chase goalie Jake Allen with another goal at 8:58 of the period.
The flurry sent the Blue Jackets to a 7-4 win over the Blues, who have won only two of their first nine games and fell to 1-2-2 at Enterprise Center.
In five of those games, the Blues either had the lead of were tied in the third period, but that wasn’t the case on Thursday night.
The result prompted a lengthy postgame meeting among the Blues players and coaches. The locker room was closed for 23 minutes before the media was admitted, much longer than normal.
Three of the team’s leaders, Alex Pietrangelo, Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko took turns speaking to reporters and had a universal theme – the results this season have not been good enough, and that it needs to change.
“We just need to get back to working,” Steen said. “Other teams are outworking us right now. That’s why they are getting bounces, why they are getting odd-man rushes, why they are getting chances. We’ve got to get back to structurally working.
“This is a barn that’s extremely hard to come into and get two points and right now it’s not. It’s unacceptable.”
“We feel like (expletive) to do this in front of our fans,” Tarasenko said. “Trust me this is not the most fun time in our life. … We need to take small steps and believe in ourselves again and out-play teams.
“Maybe everybody is trying to do too much. I don’t see anybody in here who doesn’t care. Now we just have to do our jobs, do the small stuff. There’s no other way to get out of this.”
Pietrangelo, the captain of the Blues, said the work has to begin with his own play;
“Tired of having these conversations,” he said. “Have to be better. We’re not good in small aspects of our game, uncharacteristic of this group. Small things make the difference in the game now. I’m tired of leaving our goalies out to dry.
“We’ve been built on work for years. We need to get our work back where we want it to be. It’s getting a little bit old. For years it wasn’t like that, it’s not how we want to play. I take responsibility for where we are right now. It starts with me. We’ve got to move this thing in the right direction.”
Coach Mike Yeo also was reflective after the game and admitted his job “should be in question” because of the team’s disappointing performance after entering the year with high expectations.
“Everyone’s frustrated and disappointed,” Yeo said. “Bottom line it’s got to be look in the mirror. What are we going to be and how are we are going to do it. … The only way we all come out of this is together. Whatever it is to get the players to believe in themselves and to want to do things, to want to play for your teammates more than anything. Then that becomes contagious and then you become a team that builds confidence in the group around you. We have to build that right now.
“Hopefully we look back at this point and say it’s a turning point for us. The only way that’s going to happen is if we dig in together. … This is a group that I really care about and it’s a group that I really believe in. My job should be in question right now. That comes with the trade. But I’m not going to coach to try to save my job. I’m going to coach to try to win a Stanley Cup.”
The Blues took the early lead on goals from Tarasenko, only the second game in which he has scored a goal, and Jaden Schwartz, his first of the season.
After Columbus took the 4-2 lead, Steen scored midway through the second period, but three goals against backup goalie Chad Johnson increased the lead to 7-3.
Those goals increased the total allowed by the Blues in the third period this season to 18, the most in the NHL.
NOTES: Zach Sanford scored the final Blues’ goal in the third period after Columbus had increased its lead to 7-3 … The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury and said he would be re-evaluated in two weeks … Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson joined forward Robby Fabbri on a conditioning assignment in San Antonio … Thursday night’s hame began a seven-game homestand for the Blues, their longest of the season. They will host Chicago on Saturday night, the Blackhawks second visit to St. Louis in the first four weeks of the season.