Klesla's Pair Gives St. Louis the Blues

Thursday, 11.09.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Klesla\'s Pair Gives St. Louis the Blues
(AP) -Columbus coach Gerald Gallant felt satisfied, Rostislav Klesla considered himself lucky, and Rick Nash was relieved.

All that followed a rare Blue Jackets victory.

Klesla scored his first two goals of the season for Columbus during a wild second period that featured six goals, five power-play opportunities and some ragged play from Blues goaltender Manny Legace. It all worked out for the Blue Jackets, who won 4-2 over St. Louis on Thursday night.

"We got some breaks, there's no doubt about that," Gallant said. "But you make breaks by working hard and having a good team game. We came out and played our best team game of the year."

Columbus (5-7-1) struggled in its first five road games this season, going 1-4 and giving up 19 goals.

Pascal Leclaire stopped 24 shots and the Blue Jackets had their best offensive flurry of the season.

They scored three unanswered goals in just over five minutes with Klesla starting and ending the barrage with two somewhat fortunate goals. He netted his first after he left the penalty box, taking a pass from Dan Fritsche and scoring a breakaway goal that tied it at 2. His second goal came on a lazy shot that slowly slid into the left side of the net past Legace.

"I didn't even see it go in," he said. "They said nobody tipped it, so it was pretty lucky. We got the two-goal lead and that was huge."

The Blue Jackets entered the game with only 27 goals through their first 12 games. Legace's poor play helped that total rise.

Aside from failing to stop Klesla's two shots, Legace allowed a short-handed goal to Dan Fritsche and escaped further damage on his biggest gaffe of the game. He tried to send the puck around the boards behind his own net but it stayed in the corner. He had to scramble back to the crease to stop two point-blank Columbus shots.

Legace received mock cheers when he made an easy save with 3:46 left in the period. He was replaced Curtis Sanford at the start of the third.

"I just had a horrible second period," said Legace, who faced 21 shots. "I let the guys down."

Bill Guerin gave St. Louis (4-7-3) a 1-0 lead at 1:18 of the second, but Nash tied it just under 2 minutes later with his first goal in over a month. His power-play tally came on his third shot in about 15 seconds during the shift and ended a nine-game drought. He hadn't scored since Oct. 9 against Phoenix.

Keith Tkachuk restored the Blues' advantage at 8:12 before Columbus went on its run with three goals in a span of 5:09. Despite getting hit in the face with a high stick from Klesla, Tkachuk pushed the puck past Leclaire and gave St. Louis a chance to add to it as Klesla went to the penalty box. After the Blues failed to capitalize, the Blue Jackets took over from there.

Notes: Klesla hadn't scored in 10 games. ... Blues D Barret Jackman (knee) played for the first time in 11 games and earned an assist on Tkachuk's goal. ... St. Louis scratched D Dennis Wideman (hand) for the second consecutive game. C Dallas Drake (lower body) missed his first game.

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