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League-leading Blues beat Jets 3-1

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St. Louis Blues right-winger Ryan Reaves (right) and Winnipeg Jets centre Patrice Cormier battle for the puck in first-period action during an NHL game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis Monday.

CHRIS LEE / ST LOUIS DISPATCH/AP Enlarge Image

St. Louis Blues right-winger Ryan Reaves (right) and Winnipeg Jets centre Patrice Cormier battle for the puck in first-period action during an NHL game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis Monday.

ST. LOUIS — It’s not that the Winnipeg Jets did anything particularly wrong at Scottrade Center last night.

Sure, there were a few lapses — there always are.

But overall, the Jets were solid defensively, hit like crazy and played with emotion and, for the most part, discipline. That’s usually a winning formula in the NHL.

Unless, that is, your opponent happens to be the league-leading St. Louis Blues, who showed in spades why they are now the first team in the NHL to reach triple digits in points this season.

Relying on a stifling defensive game and taking full advantage of their offensive opportunities, the Blues improved to 101 points in the standings with a 3-1 win.

The loss was the seventh in the last eight games for the Jets, who looked like world-beaters just one night earlier in a 7-2 win at home over the Dallas Stars, but simply could not find any traction against aSt. Louis team that yields very little in the way of scoring chances — and now have a world-class goaltender in Ryan Miller to backstop them the few times they do.

"That’s frustrating — but this is what that team does. They get up by a goal and then hold the fort," said Jets goaltender Al Montoya. "We battled. That’s hockey though. We were right there — it could have been anyone’s game there in that third period."

A thin margin

On a night neither team had much in the way of scoring chances, the Blues took advantage of a slashing penalty called on Evander Kane in the third period to score the winning goal at 13:09. A blocked shot landed directly on the stick of Blues forward David Backes, who made no mistake in burying the puck behind Montoya for the winner.

"There’s nothing more that guy can do, he blocked the shot," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "But we can’t be in the box then, that’s the bottom line on that play."

About that empty-net goal

Backes was awarded his second goal of the night at 18:49 of the third period when he was slashed by Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba while he was headed for an empty Jets vacated by Montoya in favour of the extra attacker.

NHL rules allow for a goal to be awarded in those circumstances — essentially it’s a penalty shot with no goalie — but Maurice was unimpressed by the call. "I don’t think that’s an automatic goal. I don’t think it’s the slash that he goes down... If you lock feet with a guy, then it’s not unimpeded progress to the net. It should still be 2-1 in my mind."

About that brawl at the end of the game

A melee broke out as time expired that saw everyone on the ice at the time, with the exception of Blues goalie Ryan Miller, toss a few punches.

Jets winger Blake Wheeler was one of the combatants and was unimpressed afterward that the Blues had their tough guys on the ice to end the game.

"They put their five toughest guys on the ice against our five guys trying to score a goal," said Wheeler. "I think it’s bull----. But what are you going to do?

"We stuck together. That’s all you can ask for. We did our best."

Yeah, so what’s it mean in the playoff race?

The Jets still trail the Dallas Stars by four points, but the Stars now have three games in hand on Winnipeg. And it’s not just Dallas that is a problem for the Jets, with the Phoenix Coyotes — who were tied with the Stars at 75 points for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference heading into Monday night — in action late Monday in Los Angeles.

The Jets get a day off today before returning to action Wednesday night at the MTS Centre against the Colorado Avalanche.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Live Winnipeg Jets Coverage Twitter bird

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: 3. Where does Kane with #nhljets going forward? Does he open next season with Scheifele and Wheeler or does Buff on top line? 3rd line? 7:53 am on Mar 18

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: 2. Is Pav the future? I'm not so sure anymore. But how do you extricate and replace? and who would you get to play goal for #nhljets? 7:51 am on Mar 18

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: morning #nhljets fans. couple of questions or topics for discussion: 1. Mo or no Mo? Would you bring back Paul Maurice? I would. more.... 7:50 am on Mar 18

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: great pass by Kane. like it came natural. how do you quantify what stuart just did #nhljets 9:00 pm on Mar 17

  • PaulWiecek

    @PaulWiecek: #NHLJets Eric O'Dell takes a pass from Evander Kane and makes a pretty move on Ryan Miller to tie the score 1-1 at 1:55 of 3rd period. 8:58 pm on Mar 17

  • PaulWiecek

    @PaulWiecek: #NHLBlues lead #NHLJets 1-0 after second period. Jets held to 5 shots on goal that period, now trail 18-12. 8:34 pm on Mar 17

  • PaulWiecek

    @PaulWiecek: #NHLJets have had three shots through the first 15 minutes of the 2nd period. 8:26 pm on Mar 17

  • RickRalphTSN

    @RickRalphTSN: #NHLJets fans do not look at corsi right now. 8:09 pm on Mar 17

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: hitch wants that matchup of backes line against toby and bogo #nhljets 8:07 pm on Mar 17

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: pk has been excellent for #nhljets 8:04 pm on Mar 17

  • PaulWiecek

    @PaulWiecek: #NHLBlues Derek Roy with a nice feed to Brenden Morrow, who buries it behind #NHLJets Al Montoya and it's 1-0 for St. Louis early in 2nd 8:01 pm on Mar 17

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: what didn't go wrong on that shift? terrible work by #nhljets forwards 7:59 pm on Mar 17

  • PaulWiecek

    @PaulWiecek: #NHLJets and #NHLBlues are scoreless after the first period. Jets lead shots on goal, 7-6. 7:39 pm on Mar 17

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: everybody has their preference but #nhljets and #nhlblues game is my kind of hockey. fast and physical. olympics were great. this is better 7:32 pm on Mar 17

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: backes just about broke toby on that forecheck bang #nhljets 7:15 pm on Mar 17

  • PaulWiecek

    @PaulWiecek: #NHLJets will go with the same lineup in STL tonight that beat Dallas 7-2 Sunday night. And yes, that includes Dustin Byfuglien. 7:04 pm on Mar 17

  • PaulWiecek

    @PaulWiecek: Ryan Miller will get the start in net tonight for the Blues, versus Al Montoya for the #NHLJets. 5:36 pm on Mar 17

  • ScottBilleck

    @ScottBilleck: The #NHLJets will face Ryan Miller tonight who is 6-0-1 since joining St. Louis and has a .932 Sv.% and a 1.70 GAA in that time. 5:34 pm on Mar 17

  • Memoria_Vetusta

    @Memoria_Vetusta: Friendly reminder to bring your Beyak Bingo Card to tonight's Jets game versus the Blues! #NHLJets pic.twitter.com/ZPecy1KYja
    3:56 pm on Mar 17

History

Updated on Monday, March 17, 2014 at 7:54 PM CDT: 0-0 after 1 period

8:35 PM: 1-0 Blues after 2 periods

9:11 PM: Jets tie it up jn third period

9:22 PM: Blues take lead with pp goal

9:34 PM: Jets lose

10:04 PM: corrects final score to 4-1

10:08 PM: adds Associated Press game story

10:44 PM: changes final score to 3-1

11:04 PM: replaces AP game story with FP game story

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