ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jake Neighbours and his St. Louis teammates were itching to finally get out on the ice.
Once they did, they made the most of the opportunity.
Neighbours and Ivan Barbashev scored 20 seconds apart in the third period and Jordan Binnington made 23 saves to help the Blues to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
Vladimir Tarasenko tallied twice for St. Louis, which was the last of the NHL’s 32 teams to open its season.
“From a team standpoint, sitting and watching the league starting to play the last couple days and us not having a game was a little bit weird,” Neighbours said. “We were excited – and antsy.”
Gustav Nyquist and Sean Kuraly tallied 18 seconds apart in the second period for Columbus, which has lost its first three games.
Barbashev snapped a 2-all tie with a wrist shot from the slot with 9:17 left in the third period. Neighbours then doubled the lead with a backhander from close range.
“If we’re going to keep playing like this, it’s going to be a good season,” Barbashev said.,
Binnington, who stopped 62 of 64 shots in the pre-season, halted Eric Robinson on a breakaway in the final period.
The Blues have won their last three season openers with Binnington in goal all three games,.
“He played well, he kept us in it,” St. Louis defenseman Colton Parayko said.
Pavel Buchnevich also scored for St. Louis, which bolted out to a 2-0 lead.
“We had good energy,” St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. “I thought we were on top of things for the most part.”
The Blue Jackets are without Patrik Laine, who is out for three to four weeks with an elbow injury suffered in an opening night loss at Carolina. Laine has 177 goals in 408 games over his seven-year career.
Columbus has been outscored 14-5 over its first three losses.
“We were making some real mistakes moving the puck,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “As far as the overall game, it was much better.”
Elvis Merzlikins made 20 saves in his season debut for Columbus.
JOHNNY HOCKEY HITS MILESTONE
Columbus LW Johnny Gaudreau recorded his 400th. career assist on the Blue Jackets first goal by Gustav Nyquist early in the second period. Gaudreau is in his 10th season in the NHL.
St. Louis C Logan Brown missed the contest with a shoulder injury. He is listed as day-to-day,
GOAL SCORING MACHINE
The Blues did not get shut out last season for only the second time in franchise history. They also scored at least one goal in every game during the 1988-82 campaign.
Blue Jackets: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday
Blues: Play in Seattle on Wednesday in the first of a three-game road trip.