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Hellebuyck, Jets Shut Out Blues 4-0 at Home

Photos by Scott Stroh and James Carey Lauder

Hellebuyck, Jets Shut Out Blues 4-0 at Home

You can call them the ‘undefeated St. Louis Blues’ no longer. On Monday, the 3-3-0 Winnipeg Jets absolutely took it to the visiting Blues, staggering the previously undefeated division rival by a count of 4-0.

In fact, it was actually the first time St. Louis suffered a shutout defeat in 109 games.

Now that’s saying something.

Four different players bulged the twine for Winnipeg on Monday, with Josh Morrissey picking up two assists in the game. Connor Hellebuyck turned aside all 25 shots for his first shutout and third win of the season.

“He’s the heart and soul here,” Scheifele said of the play of his netminder post-game. “He’s a guy that stands on his head all night. He made all the saves he needed to. He was fantastic again tonight.”

And for Winnipeg, it was finally the long-desired full-60 minute performance.

“Process is everything,” Hellebuyck reflected. “Even showing up Day 1 and have your game. I don’t care who you are. No one does. Building that as a team, it takes some time. And we knew we had it in this room and we had been building it all training camp. Things have been looking good and tonight was a really good step for a full 60. And now we know how to play and that we can do it.”

Having just re-gained the services of head coach Rick Bowness on Saturday following a four-game, season-opening COVID absence, the Jets were dealt another blow, as Bowness was forced to sit out Monday’s contest after experiencing bouts of dizziness leading up to the game.

So once again, it was associate coach Scott Arniel that got the call behind the bench on Monday.

“I’m sure he was happy watching that one,” Scheifele said of Bowness. “Hopefully that picks his spirits up. You just hope and pray for him to feel better and better. That’s really all we can do. Obviously, our trainers and doctors are on it to make sure he comes out of this thing healthy and stronger. All we can do is pray for him.”

The highlight of a scoreless first period may have been the ceremonial faceoff. After pausing for a moment of silence to honour the victims of a deadly school shooting in St. Louis earlier in the day, True North and Toba Centre brought special guests to centre ice for Child Advocacy month, including ‘Duke’ the dog who actually dropped the puck – and did so perfectly, might we add.

Having only appeared in three games so far this year, the Blues actually entered Monday’s contest as the team with the least action thus far league-wide. Winnipeg, of course, had already played five games (2-3-0), which is still below the 5.685 game average.

Despite both teams being given first period power play opportunities, neither club could find the twine. Shots were 13 all through 20 minutes of play.

“The penalty kill did a good job in the first, our power play was real dangerous and had some great looks and great shots,” coach Arniel said. “The specialty team area, we picked that up. The five-on-five game, we knew when we had to get that puck in. I thought we did a great job tonight of getting to the net, of not playing to the outside, we played a lot more on the inside of the offensive zone and we got rewarded for it.”

But as has been their custom so far, the Jets found a way to get the game’s opening goal. This time it took nearly half the game. With 9:30 remaining in the second, Mark Scheifele found his fourth tally of the season, putting home a rebound following a long-range Josh Morrissey point shot.

Moments after linemate Kyle Connor was denied on a breakaway, Scheifele came within inches of his second of the game, beating Thomas Greiss, but not the iron. For Greiss, Monday marked both his first game of the season and his Blues debut, having joined St. Louis from Detroit this offseason.

“Greiss was great for us tonight. He made a lot of great saves and we’ve got to be better in front of him,” Brayden Schenn said of his netminder. “I don’t think we deserved to win it tonight by any means. We were in it, I guess, until midway through the third period, but I don’t think we deserved to win it.”

The Jets outshot St. Louis 9-5 in the middle stanza for a two-period total of 22-18. Beginning the third with 10 shots to the Blues’ two, Winnipeg looked to keep the ice tilted in its favour. Scheifele came close once again midway through the frame, but the Blues’ backup tendy was up to the test.

Finally, Jets fans were given the treat of The Killers’ ‘Mr. Brightside’ midway through the frame, as Sam Gagner ripped home his third of the season on a setup play from Kyle Connor. Scoring with just 9:22 remaining, the fun wasn’t done quite yet.

“No team wants to play against that,” Scheifele said of the fourth line’s play. “Nobody wants to come back to their zone and stop and have to grind it out and waste 15-20 seconds and have to get the puck out of their own net. When we have the players that we have on our team, they’re tough to take off the puck when we have support. That was just playing simple. There is no magic formula to that. It’s getting the puck deep and having guys in the right positions to know your options and going from there.”

Three minutes later, Morgan Barron found his first of the campaign on the tails of a hard-working shift from Adam Lowry. Keeping the decibel levels to well above 100, Barron jammed in a centering pass from a behind-the-net feed from his linemate, giving Winnipeg quite a cushion late in the game. With just 6:22 left to play, only one order of business was left to accomplish, and Hellebuyck and the Jets managed just fine.

Cole Perfetti put the icing on the cake with 1:34 remaining, sliding the puck the length of the ice and into the empty net after St. Louis pulled for the extra attacker late in the game.

Greiss turned aside 40 of the Jets’ 43 shots on net, while Hellebuyck made 25 stops on the night.

“It felt great,” Hellebuyck said. “Felt like it was a step in the right direction. We know we have it in this room and we needed to show it for 60 minutes. Now that we have, now we have something to build on.”

Following the mini two-game homestand, Winnipeg will now travel back out west on another three-game road trip with games in Los Angeles, Arizona and Vegas. The Jets first visit Crypto.Com Arena in California on Thursday before heading to the desert for another late-night tilt on Friday, this time with division rival Coyotes. Winnipeg finishes things off in Vegas for its second game in 10 days with the Golden Knights. Puck drop for Thursday and Friday’s games are set for 9:30 PM central time.

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com or on Twitter at @GameOnHockey.

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