(Photo courtesy Associated Press)
It would take overtime, but the Winnipeg Jets found a way to beat the St. Louis Blues for the second time in this young season.
Defenseman Jacob Trouba scored the game-winner at the 2:54 mark of overtime on a crisp tic-tac-toe passing play that started behind the Blues goal, went out to the high slot, and then down to Jake Allen‘s left where Trouba had slipped free from the defense and was all alone in front.
The loss dropped the Blues to 2-3-3 on the season. Winnipeg sits 3rd in the central division now with a 6-2-1 record.
St. Louis jumped right on the Jets with a goal just 47 seconds after the opening puck drop. Vince Dunn made a long stretch pass to David Perron up the right boards. Perron found Ryan O’Reilly crossing the blue line. O’Reilly made a quick move from his forehand to his backhand as he approached the net and lifted the puck over Connor Hellebuyck to give the Blues the lead.
Colton Parayko gave the Blues a 2-goal lead when his slap shot from the blue line deflected off a Winnipeg player and snuck past the toe of Hellebuyck at the 10:57 mark. The goal was unassisted as Parayko had intercepted a pass when the Jets were trying to clear their defensive zone.
The teams exchanged penalties with both teams having the man advantage twice in the early going. Winnipeg was able to add a goal on one of their power play opportunities when a centering pass by Mark Scheifele from behind the Blues goal hit the skate of Jay Bouwmeester and went in, closing the gap to 2-1.
The Blues looked like the same team that had beaten Toronto two nights earlier. They were swarming on defense, quick to the puck, helping each other out and finishing their checks. When the period was over the shots were 18-6 in favor of the Blues.
The men in striped shirts had their say in this game. They called everything that even resembled a penalty, and then some. The Blues were whistled for 2 penalties early in the period and managed to kill off both before getting a chance of their own at the 8:35 mark.
With the man advantage, St. Louis has shown marked improvement this season as they now sit 7th in the league in this category. Two big reasons for that improvement were involved in their 3rd goal of the game. O’Reilly found Pat Maroon in one of his favorite hangout spots, down on the goal line, just to the goalies left. Maroon took the puck and swing in front of the net, attempting to jam it past Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck made the save but gave up a rebound that caromed right to the blade of Dunn, who was creeping in from the left side. Dunn’s quick wrister found the net to give the Blues a 3-1 lead.
Five minutes later O’Reilly was boarded by Brandon Tanev and the hit opened a cut over the centerman’s right eye. The rule is that any injury that occurs during the course of a minor penalty which draws blood becomes a 5 minute major and a game misconduct. It looked like the Blues would have an excellent chance to add to the lead and put some distance between them and the Jets.
However, Dunn was called for hooking just 15 seconds later and the two teams would play 4 on 4 hockey before St. Louis would get their chance with a man advantage. The play was sloppy in the final few minutes with a lot of back and forth and the score remained 3-1.
The third period was mostly all Winnipeg. Just 1 minute into the period Ben Chiarot took a shot from the point that went through a maze of players and found the net. Then at the 3:57 mark, Scheifele got his 2nd goal of the night on a rebound that the Blues couldn’t manage to clear.
The Scheifele goal was the result of the Blues failure to clear their defensive zone. They iced the puck twice in a row and couldn’t get a line change of fresh bodies on the ice.
Winnipeg seemed to have all the energy. They definitely had the momentum until the Blues’ scored again just 1 minute and 14 seconds later. This goal was set up when O’Reilly stripped the puck and passed to Zach Sanford. Sanford’s quick touch pass to Perron found him with enough space to get off a quick wrist shot and beat Hellebuyck to give the Blues the lead again 4-3.
As has been the case several times so far this season, the Blues hang onto that lead and close out the game.
Winnipeg pulled Hellebuyck with 2:10 remaining in favor of a 6th attacker. The move paid off as Bryan Little poked home a puck that Allen didn’t see. The initial shot came in from the point and hit someone, which changed the direction. The puck landed out in front of the net and Little was there to bang it home.
Both teams had chances in the overtime. Both goalies made nice saves. It just looked like Winnipeg had a little more left in the tank late in the game and into overtime.
My Thoughts and Observations
Although the record doesn’t show it yet, this team is finding their identity. There are many bright spots here to build upon.
- The power play is 7th in the league, vastly better than last year’s 30th.
- The line of Sanford – O’Reilly – Perron is clicking. These three combined for 4 goals and 7 assists in the last two games.
- For three periods in Toronto and the first two in Winnipeg, this team played like the St. Louis Blues. I believe it’s coming together. I think it may require more ice time for the 3rd and 4th lines. We can’t have our top 6 guys running out of gas every night. To me, it was evident a couple of times so far this season. We’ve been out of gas late in the game. At some point, you have to trust the young guys, or whoever is on your 4th line to play a few more minutes.
- We have youth and talent like we haven’t had in quite some time. Let’s try to be patient as they find their way and the coaching staff finds a way to mix them in. Fans want to see them all get their chance, but this team is loaded and it’s hard to find a spot for so many guys.
- Our defense seems to have some holes in it. I didn’t expect that coming into the season. I thought we were solid there. Maybe it’s just some of the new ideas or schemes that Van Ryn has brought in. Team defense has looked better, so maybe it’s just a matter of everyone settling in and clicking together.
The Blues head home for a seven-game homestand. They face Columbus and Chicago this week and then have a four-day break to end the month. Let’s Go Blues!