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Jets fire on all cylinders in Game 3 win over Blues

Connor scores twice, Jets cut best-of-seven series deficit to 2-1

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

ST. LOUIS, Missouri - Heading into Game 3 against the St. Louis Blues, the Winnipeg Jets remained confident that if they kept getting looks offensively, the puck might start to bounce their way.

Sure enough, through that hard work, the Jets offence scored six times in a 6-3 win over the Blues on Sunday night.

Kyle Connor had two of them and including a power play marker in the second period that gave the Jets their first two-goal lead of the series.

"Even as a line and a team, we're building every single shift and every game throughout the series," Connor said. "We're getting closer to our game and it's pretty dangerous."

Video: WPG@STL, Gm3: Hayes scores on shot from the point

Brandon Tanev, Dustin Byfuglien, Kevin Hayes, and Patrik Laine added singles for the Jets in the victory, leaving the Jets down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

For Laine, it was the third straight game he's found the back of the net.

"That was huge for us," Laine said of the win.

"I thought we played good hockey… We did a good job in the second. I think we can be more disciplined and not take too many penalties because they have a good power play. Overall it was a good win."

The Jets were dominant in the opening minutes, outshooting the Blues 8-1 early. Bryan Little was turned away by Jordan Binnington in the slot, while Mathieu Perreault's shot off a cross-crease pass hit the shaft of Binnington's goal stick and stayed out.

Video: WPG@STL, Gm3: Trouba, Laine connect to put Jets ahead

The missed chances proved costly, as St. Louis opened the scoring on the power play late in the first. David Perron scored his second of the series, this one off a wrist shot from the high slot that deflected off a Jet defender right in front of Perron.

"The only challenge there is we get down a goal because we're trying to break something open that's not there," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice.

"You're watching early in the second for those cracks, those signs where you start running secret plays because you've had a bunch of chances that didn't go for you and you're down. We didn't do that. We stuck with a pretty basic and pretty fast game."

Video: WPG@STL, Gm3: Connor rips home power-play goal

Winnipeg kept the pressure up in the second and were rewarded. Hayes turned and fired a wrist shot from the blue line that deflected off the stick of Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo and past Binnington. The game was tied just under five minutes into the middle frame.

Then during a stretch of 4-on-4, Jacob Trouba found Laine alone in front of Binnington. The Finn took the pass on his backhand, made a quick move to his forehand and beat the Blues goaltender to give the Jets their first lead of the game.

Just 1:11 later, on a 4-on-3 power play, Connor's snipe from the right circle zipped over Binnington's left shoulder to give the Jets a 3-1 lead.

On that particular power play, the Jets had four forwards on the ice: Connor, Laine, Blake Wheeler, and Mark Scheifele.

"We had worked on it. All that is based on who is coming out of the box next," said Maurice. "Buff is in the box, I wanted a left-hander. We've run a version of that before."

Video: WPG@STL, Gm3: Copp's pass goes in off Tanev's skate

A Wheeler hooking penalty put the Blues on the power play early in the third and when two Jets clearing attempts were miraculously kept in, a loose puck got to Vladimir Tarasenko in the high slot. He crept in and released a shot that beat Hellebuyck on the glove side cutting the Jets lead to 3-2.

But the line of Tanev, Adam Lowry, and Andrew Copp - reunited to start Game 3 - helped the Jets answer back.

Off the rush, Copp sent a backhand pass to Tanev - who was driving to the net. The puck went off his skate and in for Tanev's first of the postseason. The goal was reviewed, but the officials found no distinct kicking motion.

"I thought we went out in the third with the right mentality, to not just sit on it," said Wheeler. "We had that mentality and when they were able to pop a couple in, we were already on our toes. We didn't have to shfit gears. We were already on it and got a couple to go."

Video: WPG@STL, Gm3: Byfuglien knocks puck in off Binnington

Tanev factored in on the next one as well. He kept the Blues from advancing the puck up the ice, instead forcing them to keep reloading in their own zone. He and Copp forced a turnover that Byfuglien kept alive at the line, then the big defenceman beat Binnington from a sharp angle to increase the Jets lead to 5-2.

"We can take some positives out of it, but we still have a lot of hockey left," said Byfuglien.

"Hopefully we can keep going. We have to focus on the little things and focus on our zone, and the offence will come."

Alexander Steen got the Blues back within two again, but Connor's second of the night put the game away for good.

Next up, the Jets will try to even the series on Tuesday in Game 4 at Enterprise Center.

"It's a start. It's one of many here to go," said Connor. "It's something to build on."

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