Jets return favor with shutout of Blues
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The St. Louis Blues found out that they can surrender more than 40 shots and beat the Winnipeg Jets once, but they cannot do it a second time, particularly in less than 24 hours.
After blanking the Jets 2-0 in Missouri on Saturday despite being outshot 48-30, the Blues were unable to duplicate the feat Sunday on the road at Bell MTS Place as the home team pulled off a much-needed 4-0 win.
The Jets outshot the Blues again — this time 46-24 — for a combined 94-54 advantage in the two games.
Adam Lowry scored the winner for the Jets (19-10-5), Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey netted insurance markers, and Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 24 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.
Andrew Copp and Jacob Trouba each had two assists.
Jake Allen stopped 42 of 46 shots for the Blues (22-11-2).
It was a case of deja vu for the Jets in the first period, though, as they took a dozen shots and had nothing to show for it. After going 0-for-60 in four periods, they must have been wondering if they ever were going to score again.
Third-liner Adam Lowry answered the question. Left winger Brandon Tanev took out two Blues defenders behind their net early in the second period, enabling Copp to pick up a loose puck to the left of Allen. Copp quickly found Lowry, who scored from the top of the crease for his fifth goal of the season at 4:32.
The Jets relaxed and continued to take it to the visitors, doubling their lead with a power-play goal from Laine — his team-leading 16th of the season and 10th with the man-advantage — before the second period was over.
Coach Paul Maurice said his third line had a “major impact” on what the other lines were able to do.
“They went out in a shutdown role, scored the game-winning goal and then let the other lines go to work,” he said. “They’re important to us, especially at home — they’ve been great. They’ve kept good players off the board and found also, every once in a while, a way to generate offense.”
Hellebuyck said the Jets deserved to win the Sunday game, particularly since he thought they were the better team on back-to-back nights. It was just his third game out of his past nine in which he has posted a save percentage above .900. The Jets were 1-3-1 in their past five games prior to Sunday.
“It’s very satisfying (win), and I think it’s better for the guys in this room because now they know that they did play the right way and they continued to play the right way,” he said.
His coach agreed, noting his snipers were frustrated at coming up empty with so many chances on Saturday and early in the game Sunday.
“Those guys expect to score. Losing confidence is far more dangerous,” Maurice said. “They’re a little frustrated things didn’t go their way, (but) they handled it the right way. It’s always a very fine line. You need to stay in the game (with) the style of game you play best, and they did that.
“We didn’t want to see the results and our last five- to six-game chunk become a story when we’re playing OK in this kind of grind. You look around, this is a grind for everyone right now and we’re back on the road (Monday). Confidence is everything.”
With Jets defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom out due to injuries, Morrissey, who had a goal and an assist, is being counted on to not only up his game defensively, but to replace some of the lost offense.
“Everybody has got to step up and take on a little bit of those roles,” Morrissey said. “You can’t replace those guys. For me, I’m just trying to get better every single day and get better to help this team win. Our whole back end has stepped up with those guys out.”
It was an emotional game for Blues right winger Chris Thorburn, who played a decade for the Jets/Thrashers franchise before leaving in the offseason. He is the leader in games played with 709 and was recognized on the scoreboard during a stoppage of play in the first period. More than 15,000 people got on their feet to show their appreciation.
“It was emotional, it meant a lot. It was a great moment, one that I won’t forget, just like my time here,” he said. “A lot of good stuff happened to me here.”
A number of his former teammates took turns firing pucks at his ankles during the warm-up.
“I think they were trying to hurt me,” he said with a laugh. “They know how much of a threat I am. There were four in a row that caught me good. I just giggled. It was all in good fun.”
Thorburn has three assists in 20 games this season.
NOTES: The Jets were 5-0-0 against St. Louis last season. ... Defensemen on the Blues have scored 24 goals this year, tops in the NHL, accounting for nearly 23 percent of the team’s total scoring. ... The Jets have the best home power play in the NHL with a 35.8 percent success rate.