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5 Keys: Blues at Jets, Game 2

First-line showdown, special teams success likely to sway outcome

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer


9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVAS, FS-MW

St. Louis leads best-of-7 series 1-0

The St. Louis Blues will try to take a 2-0 lead against the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference First Round at Bell MTS Place on Friday.

Teams that win the first two games of a best-of-7 series own an all-time series record of 318-50 (86.4 percent), including a 72-20 record when they come on the road (78.3 percent).

St. Louis won 2-1 in Game 1 on Wednesday; center Tyler Bozak's goal with 2:05 remaining in the third period the difference, the second game-winning playoff goal of his career. The other was with the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round on April 17, 2017.

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:


[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Blues series coverage]


1. Battling tops 

In Game 1, the Blues top line of Brayden Schenn, Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko was frequently matched against the Jets top line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, but neither top line created a goal.

Schenn, O'Reilly and Tarasenko, who combined for 199 points (78 goals, 121 assists) during the regular season, had five shots on goal in Game 1. Connor, Scheifele and Wheeler, who combined for 241 points (92 goals, 149 assists) during the regular season, also had five shots on goal. Which way this saw off breaks will have a big influence on how this series goes.


2. Something special

Neither team had a special-teams goal in Game 1. St. Louis was 0-for-3 on the power play and Winnipeg was 0-for-1.

Blues coach Craig Berube said Thursday the power play will have to do better after generating two shots on goal in its three opportunities. He said he's looking for more shots and a more direct attack at the net. St. Louis was 4-for-10 with the man advantage in the final three games of the regular season and had the 10th-best power play in the League at 21.1 percent this season.

Winnipeg's penalty killing was tied for 22nd during the regular season at 79.2 percent.

The Jets power play, which created one shot on goal in Game 1, was ranked fourth in the NHL in the regular season at 24.8 percent. The Blues were ninth in penalty killing at 81.5 percent.


3. Leading question

The Jets took a 1-0 lead to the third period in Game 1 but failed to win; they ranked fourth-worst in the NHL by percentage (.743) at holding leads going into the third period during the regular season, 26-5-4 in that situation.

The Blues were 2-23-6 during the regular season when trailing after two periods.

Jets forward and captain Blake Wheeler said there is no panic.

"There's so much parity in the League, if you're going to be devastated by a loss or two losses, you have no business expecting to win the Stanley Cup," Wheeler said.


4. Jordan rules

Blues goalie Jordan Binnington made 24 saves in Game 1, his first in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the rookie gave the impression he'll be able to continue the sharp play that has made him a Calder Trophy contender.

Binnington, whose first NHL start was a 3-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 7, was 24-5-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .927 save percentage this season and set Blues records for wins and shutouts (five) by a rookie.

His best save in Game 1 was a right-pad stop on center Mark Scheifele's one-timer with 13 seconds remaining in the third period, a signal that handling the spotlight was no issue in his playoff debut.


5. Laine sighting

Jets forward Patrik Laine scored a first-period goal in Game 1 and hit the post in the third period. Laine, who had three shots on goal and played 17:29, started the series on a line with Bryan Little and Andrew Copp.

Winnipeg will attempt to get Laine more offensive looks and keep him engaged; he scored 30 goals during the regular season but was limited to one in the final 19 games. 

In his first Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2018, Laine had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 17 games when the Jets reached the Western Conference Final but lost in five games to the Vegas Golden Knights.


Blues projected lineup

Brayden Schenn -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz -- Oskar Sundqvist -- David Perron

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Zach Sanford -- Ivan Barbashev -- Alexander Steen

Vince Dunn -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Michael Del Zotto, Mackenzie MacEachern, Carl Gunnarsson, Robby Fabbri, Chris Thorburn

Injured: Sammy Blais (lower body)


Jets projected lineup

Kyle Connor -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault -- Kevin Hayes -- Nikolaj Ehlers

Andrew Copp -- Bryan Little -- Patrik Laine

Brandon Tanev -- Adam Lowry -- Par Lindholm

Josh Morrissey -- Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot -- Dustin Byfuglien

Dmitry Kulikov -- Tyler Myers

Connor Hellebuyck

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Bogdan Kiselevich, Joe Morrow, Sami Niku, Matt Hendricks, Nathan Beaulieu, Jack Roslovic

Injured: None


Status report

The Blues are expected to have the same lineup as Game 1. … Tanev is expected to return after missing three games with an upper-body injury. Roslovic is expected to come out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. … Jets coach Paul Maurice said he has a couple of lineup decisions to make. Correspondent Scott Billeck contributed to this report


LISTEN: NHL Fantasy on Ice: Game 1 reaction & Game 2 previews

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