The St. Louis Blues earned a point but lost to the Winnipeg Jets Friday night in Winnipeg 4-3 in a shootout. The Blues got 2 goals from Alexander Steen in a losing effort and gave up a 3-1 lead in the 3rd period to the feisty Jets. Brian Elliott stopped 26 of 29 shots in his first start but couldn’t keep veteran Olli Jokinen from stealing the win with his shootout tally.
The Blues jumped out to a 1-0 lead Friday night in their first back-to-back game of the season. Hard work in the corner and a sweet pass through the crease by TJ Oshie led to David Backes netting his 6th goal of the season.
Winnipeg tied the game 1-1 after a rebound the size of a 747 bounced out in front of Elliott and Olli Jokinen knuckled the puck in glove-side. Ells could’ve done just about anything else with that rebound and avoided the shooting situation altogether but it went 10 feet up and 10 feet out to land at Jokinen’s skates. Steen continued his red-hot play with his 6th goal of the season at 18:14, picking up a Jets turnover just inside the offensive zone and blasting one past Ondrej Pavelec and the period ended with the Blues up 2-1.
The 2nd period featured wide open hockey with the Blues out-shooting Winnipeg 12-10 but both goalies settling in to keep the score at 2-1 St. Louis. The teams combined for just 10 minutes of penalties in the game, three coming in that middle frame, but neither team managed to score with the man-advantage.
Steen put the Blues up by 2 with his second goal of the game early in the 3rd period, but it was pretty much all Jets from there out. Winnipeg came roaring back in the last 10 minutes to tie the game on scores by Evander Kane and Toby Enstrom. Kane’s slapshot ricocheted off not one, but two Blues defensemen’s sticks to beat Elliot, but the Enstrom, game-tying goal, was more than stoppable. St. Louis had been hemmed in their own zone a bit by the relentless forecheck of the Jets, but Elliott had a clean look at Enstrom who simply fired it high on the blocker side.
A scoreless overtime lead to a Blues shootout for the second night in a row. Oshie continued to show his knack for scoring 1-on-1 and then Steener gave St. Louis a chance to win it with a nifty front-to-back move that practically undressed Pavelec (at about 1:23 of the video below.)
Unfortunately for the Blues, that was all the scoring they could muster as the shootout ran to seven rounds. Elliott was beaten badly over his glove twice and took the loss, but much of the blame lies on very weak attempts by five other Blues including Vladi Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Chris Stewart.
This was definitely one the Blues let get away, and while they got the one point, it was a very winnable game. St. Louis played decent defense and special teams, but couldn’t get enough sustained pressure on Pavelec, especially by Stewart. He’s been nearly invisible through the first 2 weeks of the season and will need to pick up the pace to even come close to expectations this year.
The Blues are enjoying a team retreat in Charleston, South Carolina this week, thanks in part to a terrible scheduling job by the NHL, and don’t play again until Friday when they return home to face the Vancouver Canucks. Jaroslav Halak will be back in net for St. Louis who will still be without the services of forward Maxim Lapierre, suspended Friday for 5 games for his hit on Dan Boyle last week. Magnus Paajarvi has been solid in the lineup filling in on the fourth line. Here’s hoping the Backes-Steen-Oshie line doesn’t cool off due to the long layoff.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!