Series (Game 1 of 6)

St. Louis leads 4-2

Game 1: Sunday, November 27th
Blue Jackets1
Game 2: Sunday, December 18th
Blue Jackets4Final
Game 3: Tuesday, February 14th
Blue Jackets2
Game 4: Saturday, March 10th
Blue Jackets1Final
Game 5: Sunday, March 11th
Blue Jackets1
Game 6: Saturday, March 31st
Blue Jackets5Final

Blues 2

(13-8-2, 28 pts)

Blue Jackets 1

(6-14-3, 15 pts)

6:00 PM ET, November 27, 2011

Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

1 2 3 T
STL 0 1 12
CBJ 0 1 01

D. Backes (Blues - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Dorsett (Blue Jackets - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

K. Russell (Blues - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Blues-Blue Jackets Preview


The St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets have been playing much better over the past few weeks, and strong showings from a pair of backup goaltenders have been the key.

In the first meeting of the season between these Central Division rivals, the Blues look to win for the sixth time in eight games Sunday night when they visit a Blue Jackets team seeking a fourth victory in five contests.

St. Louis is 6-1-2 since Ken Hitchcock took over as coach, but a change behind the bench hasn't been the only reason for the turnaround.

Brian Elliott, who has started the last two games for the Blues (12-8-2), has posted a 0.99 goals-against average with two shutouts in winning his five starts this month. He stopped 24 shots in Friday's 2-0 win over Calgary to record his third shutout and improve to 9-1-0. Elliott also leads the league with a 1.34 GAA and a .951 save percentage.

"He's making saves he has no business making," said David Backes, who had a goal and an assist Friday. "When you've got that behind you, it gives you confidence to make a few more plays in front of him. ... Kudos to him."

Backes has also played a role in St. Louis' surge, scoring four goals in the last five games after scoring four times in the first 17.

Teammate Patrik Berglund is still mired in a funk, scoring once in the last 13 games, but a game against Columbus might be what he needs. He had four goals and an assist in helping the Blues go 4-2-0 against the Blue Jackets last season.

Columbus (6-13-3) got off to a brutal start to the season, opening 2-12-1, and still owns the worst record in the Western Conference, but it is starting to show some signs of life.

With Friday's 5-1 win over Buffalo, the Blue Jackets won for the third time in four games and improved to 4-1-2 since Nov. 12. Curtis Sanford -- between the pipes for the last five while Steve Mason recovers from a concussion -- has been outstanding.

Sanford, who stopped 28 shots Friday, is 3-0-2 with a 1.34 GAA since Nov. 17, yielding one goal in four of those starts. He appeared in 73 games for the Blues from 2002-07, but has yet to face his former team.

His counterpart, Elliott, is 2-0-1 with a 2.91 GAA lifetime against Columbus.

St. Louis' opening day starter Jaroslav Halak, who is 3-7-2 with a 2.57 GAA and .895 save percentage, went 3-2-0 with a 2.96 GAA against the Blue Jackets last season.

While Sanford has been solid in goal, Columbus' offense is suddenly finding the back of the net with regularity.

Rick Nash scored twice against the Sabres, while Mark Letestu, Marc Methot and R.J. Umberger also scored for the Blue Jackets, who recorded their highest goal output and largest margin of victory this season. Columbus has reached the four-goal mark three times in the last four games after scoring that many once in its first 18 contests.

"We already got ourselves in a huge hole so it had to start coming to salvage the season," Umberger said. "We still have a long way to go."

Umberger is also starting to come around, tallying two goals in the last four games after only scoring once in the team's first 18 contests. Umberger, who had eight goals in his first 22 games last season, had three goals and three assists against the Blues in 2010-11.