The Winnipeg Jets welcomed the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues to Bell MTS Place Friday evening for the first matchup of the season between the two Central Division opponents.
Fighting back from various deficits, Winnipeg kept up with its southern rival for the most part, knotting the game late to send it to overtime. Although ultimately dropping the contest 5-4 on a David Perron breakaway strike, the Jets had multi-point offensive efforts from both Kyle Connor (two goals) and Patrik Laine (two assists).
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 30 of 35 shots he faced through 62:10 of play, giving up two soft goals to begin the game, before battling back to make some solid stops on various St. Louis opportunities. Jordan Binnington turned aside 25 of 29 shots for the visitors.
The Blues had five multi-point scorers Friday, as the offence mainly came from the same sources. Tyler Bozak collected two goals, Jaden Schwartz had three assists, Brayden Schenn had two assists, while both Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron collected a goal and an assist on the night.
Justin Faulk scored the opening goal of the game just 1:10 into the first period on St. Louis’ first shot. Winnipeg responded in the final minute of the frame as Gabriel Bourque slammed home a Mason Appleton rebound, knotting the game at ones with 46 seconds to play in the period.
Captain Pietrangelo collected his 10th of the season 5:30 into the second period, burying a stinker past Hellebuyck, walking right up to the netminder before pounding it past the goal line. Connor tied the game once again for the Jets on a pretty set of moves in tight, beating Binnington top shelf on a deceptive stickhandle from the top of the crease.
Kyle Bozak scored the only power play goal of the game, capitalizing on the man advantage while Mark Scheifele observed from the confines of the home team’s penalty box. Bozak’s sixth gave St. Louis a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes. After falling behind 12-5 in the shot department in the opening frame, the Blues battled back to bring the totals to 22-20 Winnipeg through 40 minutes.
Connor and Bozak once again exchanged goals in the third period, with Connor momentarily tying the game at threes on a rebound tap-in following a Mark Scheifele break. Just 1:58 later Bozak hammered a one-timer past Hellebuyck, retaking St. Louis’ lead.
With the Jets’ netminder on the bench for the extra attacker, the Blues’ defence fell asleep and Winnipeg took advantage. Nikolaj Ehlers found Blake Wheeler from behind the net, who put the puck into the twine with 1:14 to play, sending folks gathered at Bell MTS Place into a frenzy once again as the game moved into overtime.
Despite countless opportunities at both ends of the ice, the David Perron and the Blues took advantage of a Mark Scheifele miscue in the Jets’ offensive zone, picking up a loose puck and carrying it the length of the ice before beating Hellebuyck with a backhand deke to seal the deal 5-4 for the visitors.
The 25-8-6 Blues are now winners of seven-straight, while the Jets (21-14-3) have now lost four-straight at home, after previously winning their five prior home contests. Winnipeg is now 6-3 on the season in games that require overtime or a shootout.
The Jets will now travel to St. Louis for the second half of the home-and-home series on Sunday, before moving to Colorado for another Central Division test against the Avalanche. Winnipeg’s next home game comes on January 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sunday’s afternoon contest is set for 2:00 PM central and will be available to view on TSN.