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Jets not worried about losing first two games of Western series to Blues

Captain Wheeler says there's 'zero' concern about heading to St. Louis without win

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets say there's no reason to worry, but their odds are going down fast in the Western Conference First Round against the St. Louis Blues.

The Jets lost 4-3 in Game 2 at Bell MTS Place on Friday to fall behind 2-0 in the best-of-7 series. Game 3 is at St. Louis on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, SN, TVAS2, FS-MW).

Teams that win the first two games of a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series have a series record of 318-50 (.864) and are 72-20 when they come on the road (.783).

 

[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Blues series coverage]

 

How much concern do the Jets have going on the road down two games?

"Zero," captain Blake Wheeler said.

Wheeler, who scored his first goal of the playoffs at 12:01 of the first period, was asked what gives him hope.

"Every single guy," he said. "You've got to win four games to win a series. Never met any team that won two to win a series, so we're all right."

Wheeler's confidence will need to be backed up by better play throughout the lineup if Winnipeg is to end a couple of discouraging streaks.

Video: STL@WPG, Gm2: Wheeler rips home Scheifele's feed

The Jets have lost six straight postseason games, including four in a row in the 2018 Western Conference Final, when the Vegas Golden Knights defeated them in five games, and they have lost their past four playoff games at home.

Game 2 had numerous momentum swings. The Jets trailed 1-0, but then led 2-1 after Patrik Laine's second goal of the playoffs at 2:49 of the second period. The Blues forged ahead 3-2 before Mark Scheifele tied it 3-3 with a power-play goal at 18:55 of the second.

The game was decided by a Ryan O'Reilly snap shot at 3:46 of the third period.

No matter, Jets defenseman Tyler Myers said.

"There are going to be times when we are controlling the play, there will be times when they control the play," he said. "It's the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we expect some pushback. They just happened to put one in at the end."

After two straight games when the Blues won with a goal in the third period, Myers, like Wheeler, said doubt was not creeping into the Jets locker room.

"No, our focus is the next game," he said. "We're not worried about what happened the last two. Certainly, we would have liked them to go the other way, but we're expecting to come out with a big effort in the first game at St. Louis."

The Jets do have multiple areas they should be concerned about. Their special teams were good in Game 2, scoring two power-play goals in three chances and killing all four St. Louis power plays, a scenario that might have won many games.

Video: Discussing Binnington's standout Game 2 performance

But Winnipeg's 5-on-5 play did not match that of St. Louis, and goalie Connor Hellebuyck had two of the four goals he allowed go through him.

"I would like every single goal I ever let in back," said Hellebuyck, who made 28 saves. "That's kind of a loaded question. I'm going to prepare the same way and make sure my game's right, and we're gonna take it to them."

O'Reilly scored the game-winner on a snap shot to the blocker side with Hellebuyck partially screened on a rush that didn't look all that dangerous.

Hellebuyck bristled when asked about that goal.

"I really don't like that question," he said. "I'm going to remain positive here. It's only 2-0. There's a lot of hockey left to be played. We've got to focus on getting four, and so do they. We're going to continue fighting."

The Jets earned home-ice advantage for the first round by finishing second in the Central Division, ahead of the Blues, but the advantage is gone, and history suggests it will be more than a little difficult to overcome.

"We have a lot of belief in the team we have in here," forward Adam Lowry said. "It's a tough hole to come out of, but some pretty good teams have come out of it. You look at where [the] Tampa [Bay Lightning are] right now (down 2-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round). It's going to be a test, but we're looking forward to going into St. Louis and trying to steal it from them."

Lowry acknowledged that the difficulty of being down 2-0 will be compounded by the hostile environment that awaits them in St. Louis.

"Their fans are going to be excited for their first game," he said. "I think it's going to be similar how we came out in Game 1 and Game 2, they're going to be revved up, they might be on the body a little bit more. But at the same time, sometimes you make mistakes when you're running around trying to chase hits. It's about weathering that storm and kind of killing that momentum. You want to play in a silent building. So if we can silence the crowd early, that's going to be a good thing."

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