David Perron (57) scores the overtime winner Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets. (Photo courtesy: John Woods, The Canadian Press)
WINNIPEG – It was a back-and-forth cantankerous tilt in Winnipeg as the St. Louis Blues (25-8-6) shook off the Christmas break to take down the Winnipeg Jets (21-14-3) in a 5-4 overtime thriller. Tyler Bozak and Kyle Connor both scored a pair of goals for their respective clubs, but David Perron buried his 6th game-winning goal for St. Louis. Jordan Binnington made 25 saves to secure the Blues’ 7th straight win, as the Jets tied the game four times throughout.
“We’ve just been doing a really good job of finding ways to win games,” Tyler Bozak said afterwards. “It’s never easy here, they got a good team over there and they played us hard, but again, we found a way, and it feels good, so it’s a nice little break for us.”
Justin Faulk got the road team on the board just over a minute into the first, but Gabriel Bourque tied the game late in the first after a relatively dominant period by St. Louis. Alex Pietrangelo scored his 10th of the year on a sneaky goal in front of Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, but Kyle Connor got in front of Jordan Binnington and roofed the equalizer in the second.
Tyler Bozak grabbed his first go-ahead goal of the evening on the powerplay with help from fellow Saskatoon native Jaden Schwartz to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead, but Kyle Connor grabbed his second of the evening on a questionable powerplay in the third.
Just two minutes later, Bozak also scored his second of the night top shelf off a brilliant feed from Robert Thomas to once again take the lead. Down by one, the Jets pulled their goaltender and captain Blake Wheeler received a perfect bounce in front to tie the game late.
The Jets had solid chances in overtime, but David Perron intercepted a turnover at the blue line and wristed a backhander top shelf to skate off with the win, 5-4 in overtime in Winnipeg. Both clubs are back in action against each other on Sunday at 2pm CT, this time in St. Louis.
The Blues showed no signs of rust after the league-wide holiday break as they got on the board early. In just the second shift of the night, Jaden Schwartz turned the puck over in the offensive zone and fed Justin Faulk for a perfect one-timer, just 70 seconds into the game.
Justin Faulk’s 3rd goal of the season and second in five games gave the Blues an early lead. The Blues used that energy to put pressure on the Jets for the majority of the first period, as St. Louis capitalized on turnovers in the offensive zone committed by Winnipeg.
Winnipeg’s rush game would not be denied however, and Jordan Binnington faced some big tests early in the game. The Jets couldn’t find the net until the final minute of the first period, when Gabriel Bourque fired a powerful one-timer past Binnington’s glove side.
With 46 seconds left in the first, the Jets tied the game 1-1. St. Louis would have to take the tie into the locker room, while getting outshot 12-5.
The Jets got their legs to work in the second period and took the puck to the zone in the second period, but Jordan Binnington was strong in his cage and gave his team a chance to battle back. Alex Pietrangelo did just that, after sneaking his way past defenseman Nikolaj Ehlers to jam in a setup from Jaden Schwartz.
The Blues took a 2-1 lead, but it would not deter the Jets. Kyle Connor broke free of his check from Alex Steen later in the period and got directly in front of Binnington, with an unreal top-shelf shot.
With another equalizer, the Jets were right back in the game, and the battle continued in Manitoba. The Blues got a powerplay towards the end of the second period, and fellow Saskatoon natives Jaden Schwartz and Tyler Bozak made a great play down low to sneak one high past the shoulder of Hellebuyck.
Bozak’s goal gave the Blues a lead again, this time 3-2. That lead carried over into the third period, as both teams failed to find the net against in the final five minutes. St. Louis laid a barrage of shots in the second period, outshooting Winnipeg 20-19 after 40.
The Blues knew the Jets were a difficult team to put away in the third period, and after defensive miscues in front of Binnington, Winnipeg punished St. Louis again. After a questionable penalty called on Vince Dunn, Mark Scheifele charged the net, and Kyle Connor buried a juicy rebound.
Connor’s second of the game tied things up once more, 3-3, with plenty of hockey left in the third. However, the Blues did not sit on their heels after the powerplay goal, and Tyler Bozak shined once again for the Blues with a wicked shot, after a perfect setup from Robert Thomas.
The see-saw affair in Winnipeg continued as the Blues took back the lead less than two minutes after the Jets tied it. Both clubs were far from done in this contest, as tempers only continued to flare, and more chances found their way to the net.
With time winding down in regulation, the Jets pulled goaltender Connor Hellebuyck for the extra skater, and it paid off: captain Blake Wheeler received a perfect bounce in front of Binnington’s cage and made no mistake in scoring.
The Jets tied the game, 4-4, in front of a raucous home crowd for the fourth time that evening, and forced overtime against St. Louis. The Blues and Jets skated off tied four apiece, with the shot totals narrowly even again – 30-29 in St. Louis’ favor.
In their first overtime game since November 25th, the Blues did not disappoint: The second line forwards of Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron nearly ended the game multiple times in OT but couldn’t quite get the bounces to go their way. As the Jets tried to enter the zone, Perron intercepted the puck and raced up the wing on a breakaway, where he buried the puck past Hellebuyck with a perfect backhand shot.
The Blues never trailed in the game, and finished off the Jets on the road in a thrilling 5-4 victory in overtime. David Perron’s game winner was his 6th game winner of the season, as he carried the Blues to their 7th straight victory. Jordan Binnington came up big in net, making 25 saves on 29 shots.
After a wild affair in Winnipeg, the Blues recognized their “bend, don’t break” tenacity to get the job done. “We’ve just been doing a really good job of finding ways to win games,” Tyler Bozak told Darren Pang. “It’s never easy here, they got a good team over there and they played us hard, but again, we found a way, and it feels good, so it’s a nice little break for us.”
David Perron’s 6th game-winning goal continued to demonstrate his ability at 3-on-3 this season. “He’s been a real good overtime player for us,” Craig Berube said, with a bit of a shrug. “He finds a way, you know, he’s competitive. I thought he played a solid game tonight, he was really good. A lot of guys were.”
The Blues and Jets are right back on the ice again on Sunday, this time in St. Louis in the second half of the home-at-home. To follow Sunday afternoon’s action at 3pm ET, tune in to FSMW and ESPN 101.1.
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