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playoffs

Schwartz finds playoff success with Blues after struggling during season

Forward scores four straight goals over final two games to help eliminate Jets

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- No matter how few goals Jaden Schwartz scored during the regular season, it never diminished his work ethic.

The St. Louis Blues forward had 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 69 games this season, and he went through a 22-game stretch without a goal.

A popular player in the locker room, Schwartz gets high praise from teammates on a regular basis, and the praise he received after scoring his first Stanley Cup Playoff hat trick in a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round was not only worthy, but well-deserved.

 

[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Blues series coverage]

 

"He's been going all series," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "You know it was just a matter of time before things started going in for him. He's had a lot of looks. I've said it to you guys before, even when he's not scoring, he's pretty darn effective out there. And when things start going in for him like they were tonight, boy oh boy, he's fun to watch."

Things weren't going accordingly from a points perspective for Schwartz early in the playoffs, with one assist in four games, but that all changed when he scored the tiebreaking goal with 15 seconds left in the third period of a 3-2 win in Game 5, and all three goals at Enterprise Center on Saturday.

Video: Enterprise Hat Trick: Schwartz lifts Blues by Jets

He finished the series with five points (four goals, one assist).

"Whenever you can step up and help the team out, it's nice," Schwartz said. "We're a team that, it seems like we've got different guys stepping up in big ways. That's why we're so successful.

"... I just was focused and ready. Obviously everybody knew how big of a game it was. When you're on the ice, you don't really think too much. You're focused and you're ready. Obviously when you score first shift, it's a good feeling for everyone."

The 11 goals were his fewest in a season since 2015-16, when injuries limited him to eight in 33 games. He was a minus-6 this season, an NHL career-worst, and his shooting percentage, which is 12.3 percent for his NHL career, was 6.0, his lowest in the NHL.

Schwartz is known for his hard-working attributes, a guy that hunts pucks, goes in on the forecheck, no matter the size or strength of the opponent. He's a relentless forechecker that has offensive capabilities. His NHL-high in goals is 28 in 2014-15, and he's reached 20 goals or more three times, but this season has been a challenge.

Video: WPG@STL, Gm6: Schwartz lifts Blues with hat trick

"Absolutely I felt bad for him," forward Pat Maroon said. "He's a 25-goal scorer in this league and he's going to score 25 again. He might score 30. Good players go through hard times sometimes, and unfortunately he went through a hard time this year. If you saw his game, he brought it. His energy, the way he plays the game, he plays it hard every single night, and he's getting rewarded right now. It's good to see and I'm happy for him. He's a big part of this team and he's going to be a huge part down the stretch. 

"He had a really good series all around. I think the playoffs matter. The [regular] season's over, so I'm sure he's having a good time right now." 

On Saturday, Schwartz tied Larry Keenan for second in Blues history with his sixth game-winning postseason goal.

"Sometimes when pucks aren't going in, the net doesn't seem as big," Schwartz said. "When you get a bounce, or you get a break sometimes, you can just carry that over. It almost seems like the net seems bigger. I think everyone will tell you confidence in any sport is big."

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