The final score was 4-1 for the home team, but it certainly did not feel like a 4-1 game Sunday afternoon from Enterprise Center in St. Louis. The Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues took to the ice for the second time in 40 hours in an afternoon matinee from Missouri.
The Blues improved their current winning streak to eight games, while the Jets lost their fifth game in their last six tries. St. Louis’ 58 points sets them eight points clear of second-place Colorado, and 13 up on Winnipeg with just one game in hand. Nearing the halfway point of the season, the Jets record sits at 21-15-3 through 39 contests.
Sunday’s game featured a late first period tally from the Blues, as Ryan O’Reilly opened the scoring on a rebound marker with 5:42 to go in the opening frame. The Jets’ best scoring chances of the first period came on a late power play, as both Patrik Laine and Neal Pionk hit the post with consecutive shots less than five seconds apart.
Jansen Harkins helped create Winnipeg’s first goal of the game early into the second period, as he hustled down ice and stripped the Blues’ defenceman of the puck before linemate Logan Shaw found Nick Shore cross-ice for his first goal as a member of the Jets, tying the game up at ones 5:40 into the middle stanza.
Late in the second period, St. Louis forward Jordan Kyrou found a streaking Jaden Schwartz in tight, who buried his 12th of the season five-hole on goaltender Connor Hellebuyck as he raced towards the net straight from the Blues’ bench. Once again Winnipeg found iron, as Mark Scheifele rattled a power play chance off the post late in the frame.
With defenceman Luca Sbisa in the box following a boarding call on Oskar Sundqvist, Robert Thomas scored the insurance marker for St. Louis, firing a rebound into the open net and past Hellebuyck, giving the Blues a 3-1 lead. Schwartz later added an empty netter for his second tally of the game, sealing the deal 4-1 for the home team.
Hellebuyck ended up stopping 24 of 27 shots fired his way, while the brick wall that is Jordan Binnington put up saves on 25 of the 26 shots he faced Sunday. After going 38 games before battling St. Louis, Winnipeg will have to wait until February 1 before seeing this Blues team again. Next up is 7:00 PM central battle with the Avalanche in Colorado on New Year’s Eve. The game can be viewed live on TSN.