WINNIPEG - Two Central Division rivals went shot-for-shot on Friday night as the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues battled into overtime at Bell MTS Place.
Unfortunately for the Jets, it was the Blues that delivered the final shot.
David Perron scored his fourth overtime goal of the season to give the Blues (25-8-6) their seventh consecutive victory - leaving the Jets with a hard-fought single point in the first game back after the holiday break.
"We were never out of it. We kept fighting back. It was a good battle," said Kyle Connor. "It sucks that we're on the wrong end of it finishing off."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
Connor scored his 16th and 17th goals of the season to tie Mark Scheifele for the team lead in that department. The line combined for five points on the night, with Patrik Laine picking up two assists and Scheifele adding an assist of his own.
Gabriel Bourque also scored for the Jets (21-14-3), with captain Blake Wheeler's 11th of the season coming with 1:14 left in regulation to tie the game at four.
His goal was the fourth time the Jets eliminated a St. Louis lead on the night.
"It was a good job by everyone staying in it," said Wheeler. "I thought we had a lot of real good players tonight. We just came up short."
The Blues got on the board early, as Justin Faulk's one-timer from the point 1:10 into the opening period deflected off Connor Hellebuyck and in.
The home side was undeterred however, as they kept the pressure up all period and were rewarded in the final minute of the opening frame. Mason Appleton flew into the Blues zone with speed, splitting the Blues defence. His shot was stopped by Jordan Binnington, but the rebound came out to the left face-off dot, where Bourque hammered home a slap shot to tie the game at one.
St. Louis took the lead back 5:30 into the second when Alex Pietrangelo banked in a shot from Hellebuyck's left side before the Jets goaltender could get tight to the post.
Video: POSTGAME | Kyle Connor
Again, the Jets answered.
Laine gained the zone with speed and cut back along the right-wing boards, leaving it for Nathan Beaulieu, who sent a quick pass down low to Connor. The shifty Jets winger flipped his 16th of the season to the top corner, short side on Binnington to tie the game once again.
"We had some chances to get two points. I think they were playing the way we expected before the game," said Laine. "They're a tough team to beat. That's for sure. Hopefully we can beat them in St. Louis."
A Scheifele hooking penalty put the Blues on the power play for the second time in the middle frame and when an initial point blank chance for Jaden Schwartz went off the body of Anthony Bitetto, the loose puck rolled to Tyler Bozak who put the Blues up 3-2 with his sixth of the season.
A Winnipeg power play early in the third gave the Jets the opening they needed to pull even for a third time. Scheifele's initial chance off the rush went off the post, but Connor was there to tap home his second of the night with 16:48 remaining in regulation.
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
The Jets power play finished one-for-three on the night and now has nine goals in the last nine games.
"We got down one early in the game and the power play got us going. We had a bunch of good looks on it," said head coach Paul Maurice.
"I let them go for the full two minutes on almost all three until we scored. We weren't breaking the puck out a lot. We were in zone. I thought we were close to connecting on what we were looking for."
That tie lasted just over two minutes, as Bozak fired home his second goal of the night - this one from the slot - to put the Blues back on top.
But that set the stage for Wheeler, who knocked in a centering pass from Nikolaj Ehlers with Hellebuyck pulled to help pull the Jets even.
"We had some guys that looked real good from the drop of the puck," said Wheeler regarding the return from the three-day break. "It took others some time to get into it. There was some good we can take out of that. Some guys can be happy with their performance. Hopefully the next game we can bring a little bit more to the table."
Video: POSTGAME | Patrik Laine
In overtime, Perron took advantage of a turnover at the St. Louis Blue line and broke in alone on Hellebuyck, beating him with a quick move to the backhand.
The Jets are right back in action on Sunday afternoon in a rematch with the Blues.
"Knowing what the game is going to be like, they'll be well prepared for it. I don't think we'll have to worry about an emotional lag," Maurice said of his players.
"Three days off helps you. It helps you get off the mat a little bit. The well is there. They'll be strong."