Jaden Schwartz celebrates his first of three goals after scoring in the opening 23 seconds of game 6 versus the Winnipeg Jets and goalie Connor Hellebuyck as Adam Lowry(17) and Dustin Byfuglien (33) defend. (VCA News photo)
ST LOUIS, Mo – The Blues will advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets in game 6 of the series. A natural hat trick by Jaden Schwartz and a relentless attack by the Blues propelled them to the win as Jordan Binnington faced only 6 shots in the first two periods of play.
Schwartz picked up right where he left off in game 5 and scored just 23 seconds into this game. The goal came as Brayden Schenn attacked and put a backhand shot on net that Connor Hellebuyck couldn’t handle. The puck dropped behind Hellebuyck and Schwartz was there to make sure it crossed the goal line. It was his 2nd goal in 38 seconds of play after having scored the game-winner with just 15 seconds left in the previous game.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 20, 2019
The Jets challenged the goal for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice was upheld. The choice by Paul Maurice to use the challenge so early in the game would prevent them from challenging another pivotal goal later on in the game.
Winnipeg managed to hit a crossbar in the early minutes but didn’t get a shot on goal until the 4:20 mark (fitting as it was 4/20 on the calendar). The Blues executed an aggressive forechecking attack in the Winnipeg d-zone and the back-checking in the neutral zone along with strong play by the St. Louis defense kept the Jets from mounting any serious offensive threats in the opening period.
Robby Fabbri was showing glimpses of his 2016 playoff performance where he had 15 points (4G,11A) in 20 games played. He had two nice scoring chances created by his speed through the neutral zone. Both were stopped by Hellebuyck. The 25-year-old Michigan born goalie also stopped a breakaway rush by Vladimir Tarasenko late in the period.
Other than a couple of minutes of sloppy play in the closing 4 or 5 minutes where the Blues failed to get the puck out of their d-zone, they dominated play looking like a team that didn’t want to spend their Easter Sunday traveling back to Winnipeg for a game 7. The shots on goal were 10-5 in favor of the Blues in the opening 20 minutes and they outhit the Jets 20-8.
Someone stated on twitter during the first intermission that the middle period has been the Blues worst all season. Not so today. They continued the same style of attack and limited the Jets to just 1 shot on goal in the entire period.
The game was penalty-free until the 7:36 mark of the second period when Jacob Trouba was called for high-sticking against Joel Edmundson. The power play had 2 shots on goal and served as a nice warmup for what was to come in the next St. Louis man-advantage.
At the 10:39 mark, just as Winnipeg managed their first and only shot on goal of the period, Dustin Byfuglien was called for roughing against David Perron. The Blues had a spectacular power play with several chances that Hellebuyck kept out of the net. Yet, with just 3 seconds left in the man-advantage, Schwartz scored his second of the game to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
Hellebuyck was entangled with Pat Maroon in the crease and couldn’t find the puck as Schwartz shot it through lots of traffic and found the back of the net.
Commenting after the game to the media Hellebuyck said, “That’s the definition of goaltender interference. His (the ref’s) argument was that the guy (Maroon) was in the white. But, I was clearly in the blue. My feet were on the posts, or just off the posts so their’s no way that I could be in the white. And he (Maroon) had a hold of my glove and he was holding it and I couldn’t move for a solid 5-10 seconds and, I don’t know. I just think that’s goalie interference.”
Yet, the replay shows that Hellebuyck initiated the contact and it appears that the cuff of his glove was caught on the stick handle of Maroon. However, Maroon clearly has both hands on his stick and is not holding the glove of Hellebuyck.
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) April 21, 2019
Hellebuyck went on to say, “They just seemed to want it more and you have to tip your cap to them.”
Schwartz struck again early in the third with his third goal for the natural hat trick. The play unfolded as a 2 on 2 break with his familiar linemate, Brayden Schenn. Schwartz waited patiently for things to unfold, he dangled and cut to his left into the middle of the ice and finally saw the opening he was looking for beating Hellebuyck once again.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 21, 2019
The Blues penalty kill was tested at the 6:13 mark when Tarasenko was called for tripping. Winnipeg did not get even one shot on goal. It looked like they were finished.
Trouba hit a goal post with 9 minutes left and the Jets mounted a comeback. At the 12:17 mark, Byfuglien banged home a rebound to cut it to 3-1.
The Jets pulled the goalie with 2:40 remaining but Oskar Sundqvist made an outstanding play to poke the puck out of the zone into center ice. As he did so, Blake Wheeler earned a 4-minute double minor for his high stick on Sundqvist. The Blues would be on the power play for the remainder of the game.
Schwartz nearly had his 4th goal with a shot off the goal post but it was Winnipeg who would get the next goal. Bryan Little found the net at the 19:24 mark. St. Louis fans were on their feet as the seconds ticked away. Binnington made two big saves in the final 15 seconds of the game to seal the win.
The Blues await the results of the Nashville/Dallas series. Dallas leads the series 3 games to 2. Game 6 of that series is in Dallas on Monday night. Game 7 would be back in Nashville on Wednesday if necessary.
If the Stars win, St. Louis would have home-ice advantage in the next round. If Nashville wins, they will have home ice.