Blues don’t know how to quit
Jets up against determined foe
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/04/2019 (1322 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The St. Louis Blues looked done after 40 minutes Thursday night. Then again, they looked done at Christmas. Yet, guess who’s poised to wipe the Winnipeg Jets from the 2018-19 Stanley Cup playoff picture?
Head coach Craig Berube’s band of workaholics, that’s who.
“That’s an emotional one, especially the way it starts. You’re down early, but you can probably count the interviews I’ve had with (reporters) that we say we’re a resilient group, we’ve got character in here and tonight’s a prime example of that,” said Blues defenceman and team captain Alex Pietrangelo, following the Blues’ gutsy 3-2 come-from-behind triumph over the Jets.
“You lose a couple at home, too. You come into this building, never an easy building to play in, and find a way to win. You look at the year, the way it’s been, it’s been like that all year. But we’ve still got one more job to do on Saturday.”
The Blues fell behind 2-0 after the opening period on goals by Adam Lowry — just a dozen seconds into the game — and Kevin Hayes, but kept coming.
No trash cans were being kicked, no sticks shattered in the visitors’ dressing room at Bell MTS Place during the first intermission.
“We just have to keep being relentless and stay with it. You’re right, we were down 2-0, but I thought we played a pretty good period. We didn’t like the start for sure, but other than that, I thought the period was pretty good,” Berube said.
The Blues trailed 2-0 after the middle frame, unable to solve Connor Hellebuyck despite firing 21 pucks at the Winnipeg netminder. They even came through a four-minute penalty kill unscathed.
“That was a great kill by the guys. When stuff like that happens, we have to be there for our teammates and that’s what being a team is about,” St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington said.
And the Blues kept coming.
In the third period, the Blues finally hit paydirt with a power-play goal just 89 seconds in, a just reward for star centre Ryan O’Reilly who has, arguably, been the best forward in a St. Louis jersey during the best-of-seven, opening-round series with Winnipeg. He’s a heart-and-soul guy, picked up this past summer in a blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Sabres, who has his name on the final ballot for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward and the Lady Byng Trophy as the player who best demonstrates sportsmanship and stellar conduct.
And still they kept coming.
Brayden Schenn, who had asserted himself physically throughout the series but was pointless coming into Game 5, swept in his first goal with just over six minutes left in regulation, just as the net was knocked off its moorings.
Berube had altered his top two lines midway through the game, moving David Perron up to play with O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, and Schenn down with Jaden Schwartz and Oskar Sundqvist. The shrewd switch worked out pretty well.
They weren’t done, yet.
With an offensize-zone faceoff and against Winnipeg’s top trio of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor, St. Louis completed the stunning comeback. Tyler Bozak lifted a pass to Schwartz and he bunted it out of midair past Hellebuyck with just 15 ticks left on the clock.
“(Bozak) came on, he was fresh, and probably knew there wasn’t much time left. So, he just threw (the puck) on net and I kind of got lucky, it just hit my stick,” said Schwartz, on his first marker of the series.
A stunning result, but par for the course for these Blues, who have come up with unexpected results for months now.
The Blues found themselves last in the NHL on Jan. 2, with a 15-18-4 record. They then went on a 30-10-5 run to finish third in the Central Division.
The Blues head back to Missouri with a chance to wrap up the series tonight at Enterprise Center. The Jets captured both games there earlier this week, but failed three straight times to pick up a victory at their own downtown rink.
“You don’t see that too often, right?” Pietrangelo said. “You don’t see the road team win all the games but, again, we’ve got to go home, and we played better in Game 4 (3-2 in overtime for the Jets) there, so we’ve got to build off that.”
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Saturday, April 20, 2019 10:22 AM CDT: Final