Preview: Blues at Jets
The Winnipeg Jets desperately needed somebody to step up after losing the first two contests of their Western Conference first-round series against the St. Louis Blues and, thanks to forward Kyle Connor, the Jets return home for Thursday’s Game 5 even in the best-of-seven series. Two nights after scoring twice in a Game 3 victory, Connor netted the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Jets to a 2-1 victory Tuesday, a night where Winnipeg’s top line combined for six points.
“It’s a sense of relief and a lot of excitement,” Connor told reporters after he, center Mark Scheifele and forward Blake Wheeler finished with two goals and four assists, giving the trio 10 points in the two games in St. Louis. “They had some pushes. We had some good zone time. We stuck with it and fought the whole game.” The Blues were 12-0-4 in one-goal games dating back to Feb. 5 before Tuesday, but this loss hurt after goaltender Jordan Binnington rebounded from an off night in Game 3 to stop 37 shots. Forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the second consecutive game on a power-play goal early in the third period, but the Blues were unable to take advantage of a torrid start during which they held the Jets without a shot for the game’s first eight minutes. “We knew it was going to be a hard series,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo told the media afterward. “We took two in their building, so regroup and hopefully steal another one in there.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, USA, CBC, Sportsnet360, TVA, FS Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE BLUES: St. Louis took the game’s first seven shots but were less aggressive as the game progressed, getting outshot 20-8 from the start of the third period and 39-32 overall. Pietrangelo picked up his fifth assist of the series, and center Ryan O’Reilly earned his second point. After going pointless with three shots in Game 1, Tarasenko has 15 shots and two goals in the past three games.
ABOUT THE JETS: Winnipeg outshot the Blues for the first time in the series and applied steady pressure in the third period and overtime despite having just one power-play opportunity in the game. Connor Hellebuyck has rebounded from a shaky Game 2 in goal, stopping 31-of-32 shots Tuesday and allowing only four goals total in the two games in St. Louis. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien shares the team lead in points (five) with Connor, Scheifele and Wheeler.
1. Binnington has lost back-to-back games for the first time in his stellar rookie season.
2. Jets F Patrik Laine did not score for the first time in the series in Game 4.
3. Winnipeg has lost six of its past seven home playoff games dating back to last season and the Blues finished 21-13-7 on the road this season.
PREDICTION: Jets 3, Blues 2