WINNIPEG – For the third time in as many tries this season, the Winnipeg Jets came out on the wrong end of a close game with the Central Division rival St. Louis Blues.
Paul Stastny broke a 3-3 tie with 3:28 to play in the third period as the Blues came all the way back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the home team 4-3 Tuesday at MTS Centre.
Stastny finished off a great feed on a 2-on-1 with Vladimir Tarasenko, firing a shot off the post and in for the eventually game winner.
The Jets were the better of the two teams in the third period, outshooting the Blues 13-4 and even hitting the post prior to Stastny’s goal, but it wasn’t enough. Tarasenko and Alexander Steen finished the night with three points each, lifting their team to victory.
Mark Scheifele, Chris Thorburn and Drew Stafford scored for the Jets, while Connor Hellebuyck made 22 saves.
Tyler Myers and Mathieu Perreault each recorded two assists. Tallying his 20th and 21st of the campaign, Perreault is currently on pace to smash his previous career high of 25, set in the 2013-14 season as a member of the Anaheim Ducks.
“It’s hard when you like so much of the game to lose it,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said.
“But we gave up four (goals). Can’t do it.”
The Jets opened the scoring on their first shot of the game, 4:09 into the first period. After an extended shift in the offensive zone, Scheifele got a piece of a Myers point blast, mailing it five-hole on Jake Allen for his team-leading 12th goal.
Scheifele is now only three off his career high of 15 with 51 games left.
Shots on goal were even at 10 apiece after one period of play.
The early returns the newly created Jacob Trouba-Dustin Byfuglien pairing were all positive. The duo combined for four shots and one official scoring chance in more than 15-and-a-half minutes of ice time.
Maurice offered a concise evaluation: “I liked them. I liked them a lot.”
Despite that, the Blues tied the game just 16 seconds into the middle frame, with Brouwer firing a shot from the top of the circle over Hellebuyck’s left shoulder.
Undeterred, the Jets went back out in front at 5:53, electrifying a sold-out MTS Centre. After Blake Wheeler was turned aside on a partial break, the winger stuck with it and eventually found Thorburn alone in the slot. The soon-to-be franchise leader in games played wired a one-timer blocker side on Allen.
Showing some nifty hands in tight, Stafford put the Jets up by two moments later, roofing a shot from less than a foot out after taking a feed from Perreault.
The goals came on consecutive shots, 2:36 apart. The Blues began the period on an 8-3 run in shots, but the first Jets goal ignited a 7-2 romp the other way.
“It’s a tough one,” Maurice said. “They had a stretch early in the second period where they were on us pretty good. We held water, got some saves and after that, there won’t be a part of the game [where they had complete control]. They had some chances, we had some chances…”
The Blues made it a one-goal made with 1:35 to play in the period, capitalizing on a questionable penalty call to Adam Lowry. Steen’s long shot from the right point eluded traffic en route and sailed past the blocker hand of Hellebuyck.
The Blues were coming on, and the penalties didn’t help matters.
“They won the special teams battle,” Stafford said. “The mistakes we made ended up in the back of our net. Otherwise I don’t know what to tell you. That one’s frustrating.
“We need to make sure we’re moving our legs and keeping our sticks off guys. We need to make sure that we’re executing on the discipline front. Bottom line is, if we take a penalty we have to step up and kill it and not let that momentum shift.”
Another power-play goal tied the game at three, 51 seconds into the third period. Tarasenko uncorked a bullet from the near circle, landing it on target in the heart of the yawning cage.
“Our job is to kill the penalties. We fell short of that tonight,” Thorburn said. “The effort was there, but they made a couple nice plays, [got] a couple nice bounces.”
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com