ST. LOUIS, MO – Looks like flight plans in St. Louis have been grounded.
The St. Louis Blues (2-0) brought the series home in front of a welcoming Enterprise Center for game 3 against the Winnipeg Jets (0-2), but the excitement didn’t last. Five different skaters scored for the Jets as they cruised past St. Louis to take game 3, 6-3. Jordan Binnington had a spectacular first period but Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine opened up scoring in the final 40 and didn’t look back. The Jets grabbed three apiece in each period to earn their first win in the playoffs, bringing the series 2-1.
St. Louis is back in Enterprise Center on Tuesday at 8:30pm to host the Jets for game 4, looking to prevent Winnipeg from tying the series. Game 5 is back at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg on Thursday, with the time of that game still to be determined.
The first period was completely defined by one man: Jordan Binnington. As expected, the Jets came out playing their best game of the series, putting on 9 shots to St. Louis’ 1 in the opening ten minutes. The Blues’ goaltender was nothing short of spectacular, however, stopping every chance Winnipeg had. Even on the Jets’ powerplay, Binnington (with some solid contribution from his blueliners) kept his cage puck-free.
The Blues, weathering the storm of the first ten minutes, used the energy of their home crowd to get their offense rolling. A late penalty on the Jets put the Blues on the power play in the final two minutes of the first period. David Perron worked the puck straight down broadway and snapped a wrister past Hellebuyck’s right shoulder.
Perron’s second goal of the playoffs was assisted by the captain Pietrangelo and Jordan Binnington, who registered his first NHL point. A late penalty by the Blues’ Jay Bouwmeester put the Jets on the power play for the final minute of the first and carried it into the second. The Blues skated off barely holding a 1-0 lead courtesy of their goaltender. Winnipeg put on a whopping 13 shots to St. Louis’ seven.
The Jets came into the second period the same way they did in the first: dominating. Unfortunately for St. Louis, Binnington couldn’t stop them all. Five minutes into the period, Kevin Hayes notched his first playoff goal since he was in a Rangers jersey to tie the game 1-1. Perrault and Morrissey both tallied helpers, and the goals wouldn’t stop there. Shortly after, Patrik Laine burned the Blues once again after St. Louis couldn’t follow Winnipeg’s speed. Laine’s third goal in as many games looked easy for him as he gave his squad the lead, 2-1.
Laine was assisted by Trouba and Little before the midway point of the game. Right after that, Bouwmeester took another penalty and the Jets scored almost effortlessly. Kyle Connor got his first goal of the playoffs on the power play to give his team a cushion, leading 3-1.
Wheeler and Laine assisted on the third Jets goal in four minutes. Despite a timeout and a few more chances on the man advantage, the Jets kept St. Louis’ shots to the outside and away from danger. The Blues went to the locker room in a bad spot, down 3-1 and getting outshot 25-13.
The Blues desperately needed a spark early to get back into the game, and they got one. Yet another powerplay chance was awarded to St. Louis, and after Vince Dunn made two terrific keep-ins, he fed Vladimir Tarasenko all alone in the slot and the Blues’ top scorer finally grabbed his first goal of the playoffs, two minutes into the third.
The power play goal cut the Jets lead back to one and St. Louis attempted to rally around the energy. However, Brandon Tanev, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Copp responded with two more goals in four minutes. Tanev scored shortly after the St. Louis goal and Dustin Byfuglien pinched down low and got away with a behind-the net shot off Binnington’s helmet.
Andrew Copp assisted on both goals and Byfuglien had a goal and an assist to put Winnipeg up 5-2. The emotion of the crowd was dwindling fast at Enterprise Center, but the grinding efforts down low for the fourth line paid off for St. Louis, when Alexander Steen grabbed a goal with the help of Pietrangelo and Edmundson.
St. Louis wanted one last hurrah to bring it back like they did in game 1, but Jets’ forward Kyle Connor had other plans. The Blues looked sluggish from a long, hard-hitting game, and with just over five minutes left in the game Connor grabbed a goal all alone from a great feed behind the net. His second goal of the game and the playoffs was assisted by Scheifele and that was all she wrote for game 3.
The Jets took their first game of the postseason and assured a return back to home ice in a 6-3 victory. The Jets scored three goals on their four shots in the third, while the Blues put on 16 to even the shot total 29-29.
The Blues voiced their frustration about not being able to play their style in the game. “Tonight was not really our team, obviously,” David Perron commented to St. Louis reporters. “We’re not happy with our effort and didn’t play a good game, but we got to give them credit; they played a good game as well and we didn’t respond to it.”
“We didn’t play our game tonight,” Vladimir Tarasenko told STL-Today. “We need to find a way to play different for the next game… we’ll be prepared for next time.”
With the loss tonight, Winnipeg cuts the game lead in half, 2-1. The Blues play at home again on Tuesday at 9:30pm ET, looking to take the two-game lead back into Winnipeg.
AROUND THE PLAYOFFS
TBL@CBJ – The Columbus Blue Jackets have continued to stun the league beating the Tampa Bay Lightning (sans Nikita Kucherov) on home ice 3-1. With Columbus up 3-0, Tampa looks to avoid the sweep on Tuesday.
NYI@PIT – The Penguins now have their backs against the wall in the Steel City after the Islanders won 4-1. New York leads 3-0 and look to sweep on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
SJS@VGK – Mark Stone got his first career hat trick and Vegas takes the 2-1 series lead in a 6-3 win over San Jose, with game 4 in Sin City on Tuesday.
MLB – The St. Louis Cardinals split the two-game series in Monterrey, Mexico with an explosive 9-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds. The Redbirds head back to Milwaukee for their second of six series against the Brewers.
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