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Jets rally in third, defeat Blues in shootout

by Patrick Williams /

WINNIPEG -- Thomas Steen made a name for himself starring for the original Winnipeg Jets.

Steen's son Alexander brought some of the family skill back here for a night with the St. Louis Blues.

But the younger Steen's two goals were wasted in the Blues' 4-3 shootout loss to the Jets on Friday while his father, who scored 264 goals in 950 NHL games with the original Jets, watched at MTS Centre.

The Blues, who a night earlier earned a 3-2 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks, could not fight off the Jets' third-period comeback in which the home team erased a 3-1 St. Louis lead with two goals in the final 6:47 of regulation. In the shootout, Olli Jokinen's goal in the seventh round won the game for the Jets.

"We gave away this one," Steen said. "We're up by two late in the game, we shouldn't be giving away points like that."

An injury to Winnipeg rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba 2:50 into the second period dampened the mood in the Jets' locker room after the come-from-behind win. Trouba stumbled and fell face-first into the boards attempting to hit St. Louis defenseman Jordan Leopold. He remained on the ice for several minutes before medical personnel removed him from the ice on a stretcher.

Trouba was awake while leaving and managed a slight wave to the crowd. He was transported to a Winnipeg hospital for X-rays. The Jets reported he was "alert, communicating and moving all limbs" and said later that he had been released from the hospital.

The 19-year-old, the ninth player chosen in the 2012 NHL Draft, has fit into the Jets' regular defensive rotation after joining the organization following one season at the University of Michigan.

The Blues (5-1-1) arrived from Chicago early Friday morning and attacked the Jets (4-4-0) immediately.

St. Louis converted on two of the Jets' six first-period turnovers in building a 2-1 lead. Blues captain David Backes matched his goal-scoring output last season with his sixth goal in the first period.

Steen, part of the Blues' top line with Backes and T.J. Oshie, supplied a go-ahead goal after Jokinen had tied the game 1-1. Early in the third period, Steen built a two-goal lead for St. Louis by depositing a rebound past Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec at 3:34.

Steen missed the Blues' only other visit to Winnipeg since the NHL returned to the city in 2011. Steen was injured for the Feb. 25, 2012, game.

"It was definitely a game I had circled," Steen said. "I was looking forward to coming back to Winnipeg and playing. It was really exciting. It was a special night for me, for sure."

But Evander Kane jumped on Blues defenseman Roman Polak's turnover and cut the lead to 3-2 with his team-leading fourth goal with 6:47 left in regulation, before Tobias Enstrom ripped a right-circle shot past Blues goaltender Brian Elliott to knot the game at 3-3 with 1:54 left.

"There was no breakdown," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We had complete control of the hockey game. We were managing the game properly. We made a puck error [on Kane's goal] and gave them a little bit of life. Everything was going [well]. It's a brutal loss."

Elliott made his first start of the season and made 26 saves. His previous action this season was relief duty in a 6-2 loss Tuesday at home against the San Jose Sharks.

Pavelec started for the seventh time in Winnipeg's first eight games and stopped 29 shots. The Jets lost Trouba as well as defenseman Mark Stuart, leaving them with four defensemen in the third period and overtime.

"I thought it was a way better game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "Although we were down 2-1 in the first, I thought we played a lot harder. We battled a lot harder for 60 minutes. We had opportunities to get demoralized and get discouraged a bit, but I thought against a team that can close out games like St. Louis, I thought we really stuck to the plan."

"It was good for us to win," Noel continued, "and good for us to play a complete game and to battle and work."

The Jets had lost four of five games before meeting the Blues, and Noel cracked down on his struggling team, making regulars Devin Setoguchi and Eric Tangradi healthy scratches, shuffling his defensive pairings and inserting Grant Clitsome for Paul Postma. Clitsome sat out the Jets' previous two games as a healthy scratch.

"You need to play better for 60 minutes, and you need to compete hard," Noel said of the decision to alter his lineup.

Midway through the second period, Noel benched Kane for more than nine minutes after the forward took two minor penalties. Kane has five minors in the Jets' past two games.

Kane, who admitted the benching bothered him, responded and helped key the Jets' comeback.

"We showed some heart to battle back to get some key goals," Kane said. "Our attitude from in the room was good. We didn't sit back in the last eight minutes. We started to push, and that was good to see."

A Clitsome turnover helped set up a St. Louis goal 8:43 into the game. Clitsome fell retrieving a puck in the corner to Pavelec's right, allowing Oshie to scoop up the loose puck and direct a pass into the slot that Backes shoveled into the net. For Backes, the goal was his sixth on his first nine shots this season after his 2012-13 output dipped to six goals over 48 games following a 24-goala season in 2011-12.

Winnipeg countered with a goal with 4:30 remaining in the period. Jokinen settled down a long, bouncing rebound from Matt Halischuk's dump-in on net and floated a shot that fluttered past Elliott's glove.

Steen regained the Blues' lead with 1:46 remaining in the first, jumping on Trouba's defensive-zone turnover and slinging a rising shot that beat Pavelec.

The Blues do not play again until Oct. 26 when they host the Vancouver Canucks. They plan to use the time to regroup after a week in which they won one of three games.

"It's tough," Oshie said of the loss, "but we've got a good group. We had a tough loss to San Jose. This one, at least we played hard, we fought hard.

"If you want to be a good team," Oshie continued, "you have to find a way to put away teams. We're going to learn from our mistakes."

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