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5 Keys: Jets at Blues, Game 3

Binnington can be second St. Louis goalie to win first three playoff starts; Winnipeg juggling lines

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

JETS at BLUES

7:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, SN, TVAS2, FS-MW

St. Louis leads best-of-7 series 2-0

The St. Louis Blues will try for a third consecutive win when they play the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round at Enterprise Center on Sunday.

 

[RELATED: Complete Jets vs. Blues series coverage]

 

A win would give St. Louis a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 series for the third time in 20 years. It happened previously against the Minnesota Wild in the 2017 first round and against the Dallas Stars in the 2001 Western Conference Semifinals.

Here are 5 keys for Game 3:

 

1. Goaltending

Jordan Binnington has made 50 saves on 54 shots (.926 save percentage) in the series and could become the second Blues rookie goalie to win his first three Stanley Cup Playoff starts. He'd join Curtis Joseph, who did it for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1990 Norris Division Semifinals.

Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck has made 52 saves on 58 shots (.897 save percentage) but struggled in Game 2, allowing four goals on 32 shots. Coach Paul Maurice is expecting a bounce-back game from Hellebuyck but said he's also expecting him to have some help. 

"If your recipe is your goaltender is going to have to be the best player on your team... it won't be a long playoffs," Maurice said.

Video: Discussing Binnington's standout Game 2 performance

 

2. Playing with leads

The Jets have held the lead for 34:30 and the Blues for 34:02, with each twice giving up a lead. It indicates how close the series has been.

But the Blues have been more efficient with their lead time, scoring in the third period of each game to break a tie, then holding that lead to the final buzzer.

If Winnipeg is to get back into the series, it will have to improve in this area.

 

3. Special teams

The Jets have the only power-play goals in the series, scoring twice on three chances in Game 2, and killing off four Blues power-play opportunities that amounted to 6:40.

Power-play execution has been strong for the Jets (2-for-4) and it's an edge they can't afford to lose with the Blues 0-for-7. No team in the 2018 playoffs lost a game when it outscored its opponent by at least two goals on the man-advantage.

Video: STL@WPG, Gm2: Scheifele pots PPG from the circle

 

4. Matchups

The Blues have been content to run their top line of Brayden Schenn, Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko against the Jets' top line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.

But Winnipeg switched it up for much of Game 2, using center Adam Lowry and wings Par Lindholm and Brandon Tanev against O'Reilly's line.

St. Louis have the last change for Game 3. Coach Craig Berube didn't tip his hand about preferred matchups after the morning skate Sunday.

 

5. Lineup adjustments

Ahead in the series, the Blues appear to be keeping their lineup the same for Game 3.

The Jets will keep their top line intact but do some juggling with their other forwards to try to find an edge. They're expected to switch the second, third and fourth lines, reverting to some combinations that have yielded strong play in the past. 

Patrik Laine, who has scored goals in each of the first two games, is expected to play with Bryan Little and Nikolaj Ehlers. Lowry is likely to skate with Andrew Copp and Tanev. Mathieu Perreault will return the lineup after missing Game 2 with an undisclosed injury, taking Lindholm's place, and play with center Kevin Hayes and Jack Roslovic.

 

Jets projected lineup

Kyle Connor -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault -- Kevin Hayes -- Jack Roslovic

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Bryan Little -- Patrik Laine

Andrew Copp -- Adam Lowry -- Brandon Tanev

Josh Morrissey -- Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot -- Dustin Byfuglien

Dmitry Kulikov -- Tyler Myers

Connor Hellebuyck

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Par Lindholm, Matt Hendricks, Nathan Beaulieu, Joe Morrow, Bogdan Kiselevich, Sami Niku

Injured: None

 

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

Injured: None

 

Status report

Laine did not participate in the morning skate but is expected to play. … Bortuzzo is fine after receiving seven stitches to repair a cut on his right wrist sustained in the third period of Game 2 following a hit from Lowry.

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