Blues Take 2-0 Series Lead

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, CAN – Oskar Sundqvist and Jaden Schwartz celebrate after a St. Louis goal. (Trevor Hagan/Winnipeg Free Press photo)

The St. Louis Blues took a two games to none series lead over the Winnipeg Jets with a 4-3 victory Friday night. The best-of-seven series now returns to St. Louis for the next two games.

Winnipeg came out with an obvious game plan, asserting their size and physicality. It looks like their intent is to entice the Blues into retaliation so that their lethal power play unit can get its chances.

The Jets finished the regular season with a success rate on the power play of 24.8%, 4th in the NHL. In game 1 they only got one opportunity. It was a little different story tonight, as the Jets got 2 power play goals in three chances.

The Blues managed to contain their emotions when it really counted and held on for the win without being whistled for any penalties in the final period despite several questionable extra-curricular activities by the Jets.

FIRST PERIOD

Ryan O’Reilly was called for tripping against Mark Scheifele at the 3:58 mark of the first period, but before the Jets could get settled in, Scheifele was whistled for interference at the 4:55 mark. The Winnipeg power play turned into a 4 on 4. Just 28 seconds later it was Oskar Sundqvist and Jay Bouwmeester with a 2 on 1 breakaway.

Sundqvist chose to shoot and his wrister got past Connor Hellebuyck‘s blocker to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. Bouwmeester and Jaden Schwartz got the assists.

Scheifele was called again for interference just three minutes after his first penalty and Andrew Copp went to the sin bin for cross-checking less than two minutes later. Both of those penalties were against O’Reilly.

The problem for the Blues was that they didn’t capitalize on the power play opportunities. They had most of the offensive zone time in the period but the closest they would come to taking a two-goal lead was a crossbar hit by Alex Pietrangelo.

As soon as the Jets got back to full strength, Blake Wheeler found the back of the net with a goal at the 12:01 mark to tie the game 1-1.

The goal rejuvenated the Jets and their fans as they mounted some sustained pressure late in the period. But, rookie goalie Jordan Binnington kept the Blues in it with some big saves.

SECOND PERIOD

Winnipeg started the 2nd in much the same way as they finished the first, with some good scoring chances early. Robert Bortuzzo was called for interference against Nikolaj Ehlers at the 2:03 mark and Patrik Laine one-timed a cross-ice pass from Wheeler that Binnington couldn’t get back over to stop. The Jets took a 2-1 lead on Laine’s 2nd goal of the series.

Energized, the Jets kept the pressure on for a few more minutes as the Blues had a couple of shifts where all they could manage was to clear the puck and get a change of bodies on the ice.

What could be considered one of the most effective lines for St. Louis of Robert Thomas, Tyler Bozak, and Pat Maroon evened things back up when Maroon poked home a rebound off the initial shot from Thomas to knot the score back up at 2-2.

Sundqvist got his 2nd of the game to give the Blues the lead at the 9:50 mark. David Perron and Joel Edmundson assisted on the goal.

The Blues depth scoring is starting to show in this series. (See our story from the last week of the season) Winnipeg has managed to keep the big line of O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Brayden Schenn pretty much off the scoreboard to this point. But, they’re finding it hard to contain St. Louis’ second and third lines. The 4th line is also contributing with puck possession and fore-checking to tire the Winnipeg team down.

Scheifele did get a goal with just 1:05 left in the period to tie the score back up at 3-3. The Blues had dominated play to this point outshooting the Jets 23-14, but the score was tied.

THIRD PERIOD

In these 1-goal games, as the Blues Twitter account noted, it’s a “win the third, win the game” approach. The Blues did just that with O’Reilly’s first goal of the playoffs. Bouwmeester made a nice long stretch pass to a streaking O’Reilly up the right side. #90 had a defender between him and the net, so he used him as a screen. His shot through the defenseman’s legs from the top of the circle caught Hellebuyck off guard. The goal made the score 4-3 with 16:14 left in the game.

Winnipeg threw everything they had at St. Louis including pulling their goalie for the extra attacker in the closing minutes, but Binnington kept them out.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Robert Bortuzzo left the game in the 3rd period with a cut to his right wrist but did return to the bench.  It could mean we would see Carl Gunnarsson or Michael Del Zotto in game 3.
  • The Blues power play is 0 for 7 in the first two games. That needs to change. They are fortunate to leave Winnipeg with 2 wins, having not scored with the man advantage.
  • The Jets continue to push and shove and chop and hack at the Blues, many times after the whistle. St. Louis has done well to maintain their composure and not crack.
  • Winnipeg fans definitely create an atmosphere. Let’s see what St. Louis fans have now.

NEXT GAME

Sunday night in St. Louis. Puck drop is 6:30 PM Central time. You can find the game via

TV: CNBC, Fox Sports Midwest

Radio: KMOX

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Columbus Blue Jackets take a 2-0 series lead over Tampa Bay with a 5-1 win. The Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov received a game misconduct penalty for his boarding of Markus Nutivaara. He has a hearing with the league on Saturday and looks like he will miss a game. Coach Jon Cooper called the current situation in the series a “5 alarm fire.”

New York’s Islanders are up 2 games to none on the Penguins. The Isles won 3-1 with Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey each scoring their 2nd goals of the playoffs in the 3rd period to help the Barry Trotz coached, John Tavares‘less’ team.

The Vegas Golden Knights evened their series with the Sharks after a 5-3 win in San Jose. The Golden Knights were outshot 37-23 in the game but chased Martin Jones after just 6:39 of the first period with 3 goals on seven shots. Aaron Dell came in relief and allowed 2 goals the rest of the way. There was a big scrum after the final horn in this game as both teams are feeling the heat.

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One thought on “Blues Take 2-0 Series Lead”

  1. To win the stanley cup, a team has to want to win the cup. The Jets don’t want to win the cup. That is the reason they never did win the cup. Not fair to the fans who did so much to get them here. We deserve better from the Jets.

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