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Blues rally, defeat Jets on Stastny's goal late in third

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- Paul Stastny's goal with 3:38 remaining completed the St. Louis Blues' come-from-behind 4-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Tuesday.

Vladimir Tarasenko headed up a 2-on-1 rush before sending a pass across the slot that Stastny put over Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck for his third goal.

"We've been here," said Blues forward Alexander Steen, whose second-period goal started the rally. "We don't give up. I think this has been one of our strong points this [season], to be able to keep playing, keep pushing forward."

"With the style of game that we play, we know that if we stick to it, we'll be able to get our chances eventually."

Playing their fourth game in six nights, the Blues overcame a 3-1 second-period deficit.

"It's a gutsy, very impressive win for me," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said.

The Blues (18-10-4) are 3-5-1 in December.

The Jets (14-15-2) lost for the first time in their past four games at home and are 3-10-0 against the Central Division. They have lost three of their past four games, each of the losses coming against divisional opponents.

"It's hard when you like so much of the game to lose that way," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said.

Tarasenko had two assists for a season-high three points, and Troy Brouwer also scored for the Blues.

Mark Scheifele, Chris Thorburn and Drew Stafford each had a goal for the Jets, and Tyler Myers and Mathieu Perreault each had two assists.

Hellebuyck (22 saves) and Blues goaltender Jake Allen (33 saves) each started his third game in a row. Winnipeg outshot St. Louis 13-4 in the third period, but Allen helped to set the stage for Stastny's winning goal.

"What he did was in the third period when we had no legs, we were exhausted, [Allen] came through for us," Hitchcock said. "He made big save after big save. I knew three or four shifts into the third period that we were going to have a heroic [goaltending] effort just to keep afloat, because we had put so much into the game, and our guys were showing the effects of so much hockey."

Scheifele opened the scoring with his Jets-leading 12th goal when he tipped of a right-point shot from Myers on Winnipeg's first shot of the game at 4:10 of the first period.

Brouwer's rising snap shot from the slot 16 seconds into the second period made it 1-1.

St. Louis went on an 8-1 run in shots in the first six minutes of the second period before Robby Fabbri's missed open-net chance allowed Winnipeg to turn the other way, and Thorburn scored his fifth goal on a one-timer from the slot at 5:54. Stafford put the Jets ahead 3-1 at 8:30, taking a loose rebound and flicking it past Allen for his 11th goal.

Thorburn played his 594th game with the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers, tying Ilya Kovalchuk for the franchise record.

St. Louis scored two power-play goals to tie the game. Steen's 11th goal, a long shot from the high point with 1:35 to go in the second period, pulled the Blues to 3-2.

Tarasenko one-timed a shot from the bottom of the right circle before Hellebuyck could set up 51 seconds into the third period. Tarasenko's 19th goal, his fifth in his past six games, tied him with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks for second in the NHL. Four of those goals have been against Winnipeg.

Assistant coach Kirk Muller has been working with the Blues' power-play units, and the fine-tuning is paying off lately. St. Louis went 2-for-3 with the man-advantage and has scored on the power play in each of its past four games (5-for-9).

"We had momentum the whole time," Stastny said of the power play. "We had chances. Even if we weren't scoring, we were building off that. For us … feeling the puck, moving the puck, kind of getting into that groove is big when you haven't been scoring a lot of goals lately."

The Blues, who are in the middle of a stretch of nine of 11 games at home, return to Scottrade Center for a visit from the Nashville Predators in another Central Division game Thursday.

"It's a big win for us," Steen said. "It's nothing that we take lightly. This is a strong team that we played against. We're happy with the two points. Now that even-keel mentality stays, and we go on to the next one."

The Blues completed a 2-3-0 homestand with a 3-1 loss to the Colorardo Avalanche on Sunday.

"For us as a group, I think we took a lot of positive strides," Allen said. "It was a gutsy road win. We've been up and down as of late, and to be able to pull this out on the road on this one-game trip and go back home [and] take some momentum is huge."

"Great character win."

Penalties continue to plague the Jets, whose 119 times shorthanded lead the NHL. At 77.3 percent, the Winnipeg penalty kill has slipped to 25th and has allowed a goal in four of the past six games. Opposing power plays are 4-for-8 against the Jets in the past two games.

"They've got a potent power play, and we know that they're going to capitalize if we give them that many chances," Scheifele said. "We can't be doing that."

Winnipeg remains at home to host the New York Rangers on Friday.

"That one was frustrating," Stafford said.

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