Stempniak scores shootout winner as Blues beat Blue Jackets 4-3

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Legace stopped Frederik Modin in a shootout and the Blues rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Tuesday night. Modin tried to score on a backhand shot, but Legace slid in front of the shot to stop it. "I was just trying to wait him out as much as possible," Legace said.

Lee Stempniak scored the winning shootout goal and added two assists. Legace finished with 19 saves.

"We obviously played hard in the third period and overtime," Stempniak said. "If you're coming from behind like that, you're going to get lucky sometimes.

"If you try to do it all the time, it's not going to work for you."

Legace agreed that the Blues almost waited too long to get going.

"We were sluggish the first two periods," he said. "The boys came out and played great in the third period."

The Blue Jackets were coming off a four-game road trip to the West Coast and were playing without leading scorers Sergei Fedorov and Rick Nash, who are both injured. But they had a 3-2 lead in the third until Martin Rucinsky stripped the puck from defenceman Ron Hainsey next to the Columbus goal and scored into an open net to tie it with 7:29 remaining.

"We played a really good hockey game and we made two mistakes down low, and they both ended up in our net," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk also scored for the Blues, who have points in 10 of their last 12 games.

Dan Fritsche, Aaron Johnson and Manny Malhotra scored for Columbus. Anson Carter added two assists in his first game back after missing seven with a shoulder injury.

St. Louis had tied it 2-2 early in the third on Tkachuk's deflection, but Malhotra responded just over two minutes later - on a centring pass from Carter - from the slot on the power play.

Columbus scored first midway through the first.

David Vyborny cut across the high slot and slid a pass as Fritsche charged to the net. Fritsche deflected the puck past Legace for his eighth to make it 1-0.

Guerin made it 1-1 at 15:14 on the power play, taking Stempniak's pass at the left circle and scoring over a sprawled Fredrik Norrena. The goal was Guerin's 18th after registering just 13 last season.

Johnson blasted a shot from the slot on a pass from Carter behind the net to make it 2-1 at 13:29. Blues defenceman Jamie Rivers overskated the puck, leaving Carter wide open.

The teams looked disinterested most of first two periods - registering only 12 shots apiece - until Columbus' go-ahead goal.

"They worked hard as we knew they would," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "Columbus was the better hockey club for 40 minutes."

Tkachuk scored his 12th on St. Louis's first shot of the third period at 1:07. He has four goals in his last six games.

Notes: Murray - 7-4-3 with the Blues - was one of two candidates to interview in November to be the Blue Jackets' coach. Columbus ownership selected Hitchcock, who has guided the team to a 11-9-3 mark. ... Stempniak extended his point-streak to a career-high seven games.



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