ST. LOUIS, Missouri – Now that’s how you do a road trip!
Two games. Two tough teams.
Two big wins.
Mark Scheifele scored the winning goal in the fourth road, while Connor Hellebuyck stopped all four shooters as the Winnipeg Jets beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in a shootout Tuesday at Scottrade Center.
“The on-ice product the last two games, for me, is a function of preparation,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “Every team has to find its soul, and how it gets itself ready. We’ve been right there the last two games, as good as we’ve been all year, where you’re wired into the game and ready to go. That’s a big deal.
“We’re back skating, we’re competing on pucks. We’re battling and when it all goes bad, we’re getting a block or a save.”
Hellebuyck made a beautiful save off Vladimir Tarasenko, holding his left pad on the goal line to help push it to an extra round, where Scheifele fired a shot just under the bar for his first-career goal in the skills competition.
So, Mark, how does it feel scoring the winner with your father in attendance? Maybe the dads can come back for the next one.
“Seriously, eh?!” he laughed, just minutes afterward. “I’ve only shot three times in [the past] three years. The biggest thing is that I knew what to do. I’ve done it a lot in junior and in practice, too. You know what you can do and I was happy to do it.
“I picked my spot going in. I saw it as soon as I started skating down.”
Hellebuyck finished with 20 saves, plus the four in the shootout, for his first-career win in that situation.
“It only takes one to get used to it. I was mad after the last one (Dallas) that we lost because I thought I was pretty good at shootouts.
“I thought we played well. I thought we were getting some good chances early on and then as the game progressed, we were both playing our styles and shutting each other down. Didn’t surprise me that it went to OT – and it was a pretty exciting overtime, too.”
It was a scoreless game after one before the teams traded goals early in the second.
The best chance of the first period came from the snake-bitten David Backes, who intercepted a pass up the middle and took two strides in alone, but Hellebuyck swallowed it up with the glove.
Blues goalie Brian Elliott was equally good at the other end, with a dazzling glove stop off Blake Wheeler standing up as his best in the opening 20, but a mistake of his proved costly just 15 minutes into the middle frame.
Elliott bobbled a towering pop fly from Dustin Byfuglien, dropping it in the blue paint, allowing Bryan Little to swoop in and pounce. No. 18 made no mistake, golfing it upstairs for the opening goal.
“It was a pretty hard-fought game,” Little said. “It was one of those nights that had you had to battle for everything that we got. … I thought we did a great job defensively, taking away their opportunities. You had the feeling within the first few minutes that it was going to be a tight game like that. We had the right mentality. We didn’t take many chances; we waited for (them).
“It feels good to get two wins (on the trip).”
It was a short-lived lead, however, as the Blues tied it up on the power play at 2:27. With Ben Chiarot in the box for delay of game (puck over the glass), rookie defenceman Colton Parayko blasted a high, hard shot from the centre point, beating a screened Hellebuyck blocker side.
The Jets came close to taking the lead in the dying minutes of regulation as Tyler Myers banked a long shot off the shoulder of Andrew Ladd, but it richocheted off the bar and stayed out after a dance on the goal line.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com