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Tarasenko scores twice to help Blues defeat Jets

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com

WINNIPEG -- Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice to help the St. Louis Blues to a 4-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Sunday in a game that featured a combined 51 hits from the Central Division rivals.

The Blues (5-1-0) have won four consecutive games on their season-high six-game road trip. Tarasenko broke a 2-2 tie 9:50 into the third period on a delayed penalty when he slipped a right-circle shot past Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

"We won the street fight," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It was a good, old-fashioned street fight.

"Players like playing in these games. These are old-fashioned. You get ice by the inch, and they're fun to play in, and I think our players really like this type of atmosphere, love this building, like playing this team because it demands a lot, and they're fun to coach against. They're very emotional, very intense hockey games, and they're fun to be around."

Scottie Upshall and Carl Gunnarsson scored for the Blues, who outshot Winnipeg 17-6 in the third period. Dmitrij Jaskin had two assists.

"The third period was the best period we've played on the road all season," Hitchcock said.

The loss ended Winnipeg's three-game winning streak. Mathieu Perreault and Drew Stafford each countered on the power play for the Jets (4-2-0). Winnipeg is 6-for-22 on the power play and used it to pressure St. Louis early.

Brian Elliott finished with 27 saves and faced the first six shots of the game against an opponent known for trying to pounce on visiting teams early.

"We know that's how [Winnipeg] is going to come out in this building," Elliott said. "They're a fast team that tries to get on you really early. I thought we did a good job of just weathering the storm in the first [period], just kept executing our game plan and persevered through."

"I liked our start," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "The first period, I thought we were on top of it, and after that our pace was just off a little bit."

Jets coach Paul Maurice broke from his pattern of alternating starts between Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson and used Pavelec for the second consecutive game. Pavelec made 37 saves.

St. Louis took a 1-0 lead early in the second period. Tarasenko cut away from the right circle and into the high slot before putting a shot under the crossbar at 3:27. Tarasenko has five goals in his first six games, tying him for the NHL lead.

"It's nothing new," Hitchcock said of Tarasenko. "Playing against him, I'd be really nervous, and he doesn't miss."

Penalty trouble hurt St. Louis early and Winnipeg had four power plays in the first 24 minutes. Perreault scored 17 seconds into the Jets' fourth power play to tie the game 1-1 when he took a pass to the slot from Blake Wheeler and one-timed a shot past Elliott's left glove 1:05 after Tarasenko's goal.

Wheeler's assist extended his point streak to six games, tying his career high.

But St. Louis reclaimed its lead at 9:42 of the second period when Upshall slipped into the crease and tapped a loose puck past Pavelec to make it 2-1.

Back on the power play, Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers released a wrist shot from inside the blue line that Stafford tipped past Elliott at 12:27 to tie the game 2-2. Ehlers, the ninth pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, has started his rookie season with one goal and three assists in six games.

But the Blues took over in the third period against the Jets, who had outscored opponents 8-2 in the third entering the game. St. Louis took 14 of the period's first 16 shots and had three power plays in the period.

"The disparity in the third period, we [were] in the box and then we're chasing it, so our game opens up," Jets coach Paul Maurice said.

Already taking over the game, Tarasenko's game-winning goal off a cross-ice feed from Scott Gomez put the Blues in further control.

"It was a really nice pass," Tarasenko said. "[Gomez] has a lot of experience, and I expected this pass from him."

Gunnarsson finished off the scoring for the Blues with a tip-in at 18:53 of the third period.

Already dealing with the losses of forward Paul Stastny (lower body) and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body), the offseason signings of Gomez and Upshall have helped to solidify Hitchcock's lineup.

"We brought Upshall and Gomez in for this specific reason," Hitchcock said. "We knew that starting on the road it was going to be hard to stay healthy, and they both have given us good, quality minutes."

St. Louis will play its final game of the road trip Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens (6-0-0).

"We've been able to just put everything into perspective, especially on a long road trip like this," Elliott said. "It's just one game at a time and trying to play road hockey, that gutsy hockey that wins games."

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