By Carter Brooks
Photos by James Carey Lauder
The Winnipeg Jets travelled to St. Louis down 2-0, and have since left for Winnipeg after tying the best-of-seven first round playoff series at two games apiece.
Following a gutsy 6-3 victory on Sunday evening from Enterprise Center, the Jets put together another solid road effort Tuesday, relying on superb goaltending and top-line scoring in a tight 2-1 overtime triumph over the St. Louis Blues. After the Blues invaded Winnipeg and stole two games from the Jets, Winnipeg turned the tables and handed the favour right back to St. Louis, putting eight pucks past the Blues' seemingly 'unbeatable' Jordan Binnington, en route to two-straight road victories.
Tuesday's game did not start well for Winnipeg, as the Jets were unable to find a shot on net until the second half of the opening frame. The Blues doubled up Winnipeg with 10 shots as compared to the Jets' five in the opening 20 minutes. Connor Hellebuyck stood firm in goal for the visitors, turning aside each and every puck that came his way.
A scoreless first period led to a scoreless second, but a change of pace occurred in that middle stanza. With their backs against the wall and hoping to avoid falling behind three-games-to-one, the Jets turned up the heat, firing 14 pucks on the Blues' goal, finishing the first 40 minutes with 19 shots. Binnington held down the fort, however, putting up another fine effort between the pipes.
The third period saw the Jets' depth and determination take over play. Outshooting the home team 15-7 in the frame, Winnipeg applied heavy pressure. But with forward Mathieu Perreault in the penalty box for a cross check on Blues' captain Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis sniper Vladimir Tarasenko lit the lamp on a perfectly placed power play wrist shot, giving the Blues a 1-0 lead early in the period.
The Jets' top line of Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele then teamed up to tie the game at ones seven minutes later on a pretty redirection goal. Scheifele tipped his second goal of the series perfectly past Binnington off of a patient Connor offering on a rush up ice.
Despite finding themselves a man short yet again late in the third, the Jets managed to kill off Perreault's second infraction of the game, sending game four to overtime. It took just 6:02 for the visitors to find another goal, as Connor collected the very first Winnipeg Jets playoff overtime winner since Teemu Selanne scored against the Vancouver Canucks in a 4-3 victory on April 27, 1993.
The play began with defenceman Dustin Byfuglien chasing down a St. Louis rush, turning the play up ice, and watching as the puck changed hands between his teammates another five times before a Blake Wheeler setup found its way onto Mark Scheifele's stick. Scheifele's shot did not find its way through, but after collecting the rebound, the Jets' 2018-19 regular season scoring leader found Connor at the top of the crease, who pushed the loose puck past Binnington, before being mobbed individually by each of his 19 teammates.
All three of Connor, Wheeler and Scheifele collected two points on the night, while Hellebuyck turned aside 31 of 32 St. Louis shots Tuesday. The best-of-seven series now shifts back to Winnipeg on Thursday for game five at 7:30 PM central. The whiteout street party has already sold-out as tickets were reduced to 11,000. Game five will be available to view on Sportsnet.