Preview: Blues at Jets
The struggling Winnipeg Jets will be happy the month of January is over, but February doesn’t open with an easy one as they host the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. The Jets suffered their fifth consecutive loss Friday, allowing the winning goal early in the third period for a 2-1 setback at home against Boston, and finished January 3-8-1 while falling out of playoff position in the Western Conference.
“It’s hard to win when you score one goal,” Winnipeg right wing Patrick Laine told reporters after recording his third tally in four games Friday, but only the eighth for the Jets during their losing streak while giving up 22. Winnipeg is four points out the second wild card in the West and has lost seven of the last nine against St. Louis - counting last season’s playoffs - but may be getting the Blues at the right time after they dropped to 1-3-1 in the last five with a 4-2 setback at Edmonton on Friday. St. Louis, which leads the Central Division by eight points over Colorado, has allowed 20 goals in its last five games and gave up two in a 17-second span in the first period Friday to fall behind by a pair, tied it in the final 20 minutes and surrendered the final two. Jake Allen made 31 saves to take the loss for the Blues and All-Star Jordan Binnington (23-8-5, .911 save percentage) is expected to get the start in Winnipeg after knocking off the Jets twice already this season.
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: NHL Network, FS Midwest, CITY, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet 360
ABOUT THE BLUES (31-13-8): First-time All-Star left wing David Perron recorded his team-leading 23rd goal and 53rd point in Friday’s loss and has scored seven times while setting up six others in his past 10 contests. Center Ryan O’Reilly was kept off the scoresheet against Edmonton, but finished January with 10 points in 11 games, and fellow All Star Alex Pietrangelo had an assist Friday to give the defenseman five points in his past three contests. Forward Robert Thomas scored his ninth goal in the latest loss to match the total from his rookie campaign in 2018-19 and the 20-year-old has 29 points - four shy of last season.
ABOUT THE JETS (25-23-4): All-Star goalie Connor Hellebuyck (21-16-4, .917 SP) sat out the loss to Boston and should be ready to go for a matchup against the Blues after giving up 13 goals in three straight losses. Mark Scheifele was kept off the scoresheet in his 500th NHL game Friday, but leads the team with 54 points - four more than fellow forward Kyle Connor. who has three points in his last three games. Neal Pionk leads all defensemen on the team with 33 points after recording an assist against Boston and blue liner Nathan Beaulieu (lower body) could return to the lineup after missing a month.
1. St. Louis F Alex Steen is slated to play his 1,000th NHL contest Saturday and the veteran has 243 goals along with 377 assists.
2. The Jets allowed both goals on the power play Friday and are 29th in the league at 73.7 percent.
3. Blues F Zachary Sanford boasts two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak.
PREDICTION: Blues 4, Jets 2