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Jets excited to return home with series tied

"Each night is a new challenge." -Morrissey

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

ST. LOUIS, Missouri - Two big victories at Enterprise Center in St. Louis helped the Winnipeg Jets pull out of a 2-0 deficit in their best-of-seven series with the Blues. That was the goal the team set out to achieve, and when Kyle Connor slid home the overtime winner on Tuesday night, it was mission accomplished.

"Each night is a new challenge. In Game 3 we saw lots of goals and (Tuesday), not that many," said defenceman Josh Morrissey. "It's going to change each night and you kind of have to roll with the punches. You can never get too high or too low. Just focus on the task at hand which is trying to get to four wins. That's really all we're after and we're excited to be going back 2-2."

Three of the four games in the series have been decided by one goal. Each team has converted three times on the power play, and memorable saves have been made at both ends of the rink by 25-year-old goaltenders.

Yes, this series is tight, and Jets head coach Paul Maurice doesn't expect that to change now that it's down to a best-of-three.

Video: POSTGAME | Josh Morrissey

"It's going to look like this very possibly for the next three games," said Maurice. "It's going to be really tight. The entire team is going to have to play well but you're going to need one guy to put you over the top."

It would be difficult to pick that "one guy" from the Jets in Game 4 - a night Maurice described as his team's best in the series so far.

Connor Hellebuyck was solid with 31 saves. Patrik Laine didn't score for the first time this series, but Maurice said his game was "unbelievable."

It could be any member of the Mark Scheifele, Connor, and Blake Wheeler trio. The three combined for six points, with Scheifele scoring the equalizer 7:33 into the third period in Game 4, setting the stage for Connor to score the winner.

Wheeler was one of the catalysts to both goals - first avoiding a check in the neutral zone to maintain puck possession on the rush that led to Scheifele's goal. Then using his speed and awareness to gain the zone leading to the overtime winner.

Scheifele finished the game with seven shots on goal, with his second goal of the playoffs making him just the second player in NHL history to average a goal-per-game through his first 12 road playoff contests.

Video: POSTGAME | Adam Lowry

"When they went back together the last three or four games of the regular season, you could see them building to these kind of games," said Maurice, who compared it to the series against the Minnesota Wild in 2018.

"The first three games against Minnesota there wasn't a whole lot going, but you could see it coming," said Maurice. "Then the switch flipped and that line was pretty dominant right through until the Western Final. They look the same again."

Adam Lowry's line with Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev didn't get on the scoresheet in Game 4 like they did in Game 3.

But it could be argued they were more dominant in terms of possession on Tuesday than they were on Sunday.

They generated nine scoring chances in Game 4 and only gave up one at the other end.

"Anytime you can spend a lot of time in the other team's end, create some chances, maybe hem in some of their better players and force them to defend for an entire shift - it bodes well for us," said Lowry.

"We kind of read off each other. We try to play that cycle game. We make some good reads. Copper and (Tanev) made some real good plays tonight. We had a lot of good chances. If we continue on that path, one will go in for us."

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

All three players on that line set new career-highs in statistical categories in 2018-19. Copp's 11 goals were the first time he's hit double-digits, Lowry enjoyed a career-best regular season in the face-off dot at just over 57 per cent. Tanev set new personal bests in goals (14), assists (15), and points (29).

Their game translates to the postseason as well.

The trio had more shots on goal (six) than they had hits (five) in Game 4. That says something, especially when one considers Tanev set a new franchise record for hits in a season in 2018-19, surpassing his line mate, Lowry in the process.

"Just on zone time alone, they're a heavy line and there is a cost to playing against them," said Maurice. "They're not 50-goal scorers but they play in the right end of the rink. Because they're so disciplined with their line changes we were able to get some changes in on some of that time."

That didn't go unnoticed by Wheeler, either.

"They were outstanding. I think they spent the entire game in the offensive zone," said Wheeler. "The key there is obviously those guys are capable of putting the puck in the net, but they wear the other team out so much. Typically it's us coming out after them, so we're getting offensive zone starts against five tired guys."

Video: WPG@STL, Gm4: Connor wins it in OT for Jets

There is still a long way to go in this series as it shifts back to Bell MTS Place on Thursday night. All four games in the series have been won by the road team, a trend the Jets hope to change in front of the 15,000-plus in downtown Winnipeg.

"We're fired up," said Wheeler. "Our fans are going to be going. I want to see those guys like I've never seen them before for Game 5. We're excited to get back home."

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