WINNIPEG, Manitoba, CAN – Jaden Schwartz tips home the game-winning goal past Connor Hellebuyck and Jacob Trouba with just 15 seconds left Thursday night in Winnipeg. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP photo)
A hockey game consists of at least 60 minutes of play, but sometimes it’s only a few seconds that really matter. In this game, those few seconds were undoubtedly the difference. The Jets got the first goal in the opening seconds of the game and never trailed until the closing seconds and boy was it a comeback for the history books of St. Louis Blues hockey! We hope you stayed up for the finish of this one because if you didn’t, you missed a doozy.
TWELVE SECONDS IN
Winnipeg grabbed the lead just 12 seconds into this game on Adam Lowry‘s first goal of the series. Lowry positioned himself in front of Jordan Binnington and when his linemates won the puck battle in the corner they found him all alone in the slot. His goal whipped the already frenzied ‘whiteout’ crowd into a deafening roar just barely after the puck had dropped.
Another goal at the 13:35 mark gave the Jets a 2-0 lead as the Blues outshot the Jets in the opening period 15-12, but they also had trouble hitting the net with 8 missed shots. The Jets were flying high and making their presence known as they outhit the Blues in the first period, 13 to 3.
St. Louis hung in there and you hoped, if you were a Blues fan, that Winnipeg would wear themselves out with their ‘rough and tumble’ style of play.
The first period was penalty-free as it looked like the refs had forgotten to bring their whistles or had just chosen to swallow them. But that’s playoff hockey and you have to adjust to it.
Early in the second period, it looked like the Jets would get to a 3 goal lead as they caught the Blues in a line change. Nikolaj Ehlers raced in all alone on Binnington but couldn’t find a way to get the puck past him. It was just one of many big saves the rookie goaltender would make.
Craig Berube made some line changes, moving David Perron up to skate with Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. He also slid Brayden Schenn down with Oskar Sundqvist and Jaden Schwartz. Offensive lines weren’t the only ones to see changes as he flipped Vince Dunn beside Joel Edmundson and moved Carl Gunnarsson up with Alex Pietrangelo.
The moves started to pay off as you could feel the Blues playing with some more desperation and see them slowly mounting more sustained offensive pressure as the period wore on.
The biggest momentum shifter was probably a four-minute penalty kill by the Blues after Robert Thomas inadvertently knifed Dmitry Kulikov with a high stick midway through the second period. St. Louis’ PKer’s held the Jets to just one shot on goal while killing off the double minor.
Late in the period, Jacob Trouba was called for roughing while trying to prevent Tarasenko from establishing position in front of the Jets’ net. With just 21 seconds left in the period, the Blues would begin the third on the power play for the first minute and 40 seconds.
They didn’t need the entire 1:40 of power play time, but they used all but 11 seconds of it when O’Reilly netted his 2nd goal of the playoffs on a rebound put-back of a Schenn slapshot. The comeback had begun.
Another hurdle was killing off another penalty due to a delay of game call on Joel Edmundson as he tried to clear the puck at the 6:10 mark. The Blues killed it off and you could feel the ice tilting in their favor.
They had wave after wave of sustained offensive pressure and at the 13:52 mark Schenn got a pass from Sundquvist and put the puck into the net behind Connor Hellebuyck at the same time that the net was knocked from its moorings. The play was reviewed and the goal counted and the game was tied 2-2.
NO QUIT IN THE BLUES
It looked as if the Jets were content to glide into overtime, but the Blues had other ideas. As they fought and battled for the puck in the closing seconds along the boards behind the Jets goal, the puck was secured by Alexander Steen. He sent the puck to Tyler Bozak along the half boards. Bozak put the puck into the slot and Jaden Schwartz knocked the puck out of mid-air and past Hellebuyck for the game-winner with just 15 seconds left.
BELIEVE IT!!!! pic.twitter.com/9yXWVSAsni— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 19, 2019
It was Schwartz’ first goal of the playoffs and he couldn’t have waited to score it at a better time. Everyone knows the struggles he’s faced this year putting the puck in the net. It was good to see him be the guy to seal the deal.
Giving up a goal in the first 12 seconds, one had to wonder if it could have been a long night for the Blues. Yet, the final 15 seconds determined the outcome and it turned out to be a long night for the Jets. I’ll bet they had trouble ‘letting this one go’ and getting a good night’s sleep.
The teams travel back to St. Louis for game 6 on Saturday night in Enterprise Center for a 6 PM central start. The Blues lead the series 3-2 and will hope to close it out on home ice, something neither team has been able to do as of yet in this first round matchup.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
San Jose avoided elimination with a 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. That series is 3-2 in favor of Vegas.
Carolina beat the Capitals 2-1 to tie that series at 2 games apiece.