Round 1 goes to the Blues

Central Division slugfest has only just begun, folks


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It had the nasty edge everyone has come to expect from any turf war between two gangs in the National Hockey League's toughest neighbourhood.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/10/2015 (2533 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It had the nasty edge everyone has come to expect from any turf war between two gangs in the National Hockey League’s toughest neighbourhood.

There were the usual stick jabs and pushing and shoving before and after every whistle, followed by the expected string of insults not suitable for a family publication. Give round 1 in this Central Division slugfest to the St. Louis Blues, who crashed and banged and were more efficient around the net in a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in front of 15,294 in a Sunday matinee at the MTS Centre.

“We’re going to get that in our division from every team all year,” said Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba. “Everyone knows how tight it’s going to be and how hard it is to win games.”

Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) scrums with St. Louis Blues' Scottie Upshall (10) and Jay Bouwmeester (19) as Jets' Toby Enstrom (39) looks on during third period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg Sunday.

The loss drops the Jets to 4-2 while the Blues improve to 5-1. Winnipeg’s six-game homestand resumes Friday with the Tampa Bay Lightning here for a visit.



The Jets dictated play in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Blues 12-9 and throwing the puck around effectively on their two power-play chances. But the period ended 0-0 and, if not for a brilliant save by Ondrej Pavelec on Kyle Brodziak with 38.6 seconds left, the Blues could have been up 1-zip on the home side.

“I liked our start,” said captain Andrew Ladd. “I thought the first period we were on top of it. After that our pace was just off a little bit. We weren’t able to sustain as much pressure as we would have liked.”



Both teams found the scoresheet in the second, with 23-year-old Russian Vladimir Tarasenko scoring his fourth of the season — and first of two on the afternoon — only to be answered just over a minute later by Mathieu Perreault on the power play, as he one-timed a perfect feed from Blake Wheeler.

Scottie Upshall put the Blues ahead 2-1 when he tapped home a pass from Dmitrij Jaskin right in front of the Jets net, only to be answered under three minutes later when Nikolaj Ehlers walked the blue-line before finding a lane and wiring a shot that deflected off Drew Stafford behind Brian Elliott in the St. Louis net.

That goal also came with the man advantage on a day the Jets finished 2-for-7 but could have easily finished with more.



The Jets went to the penalty box four times in the third period — two minors by Perreault and a double minor by Dustin Byfuglien with 2:47 left — and the Blues made them pay. Tarasenko’s second, and game-winner, came on a delayed penalty while Carl Gunnarsson sealed the deal with 67 seconds left and Byfuglien in the box.

The Blues were just 1-for-6 on the power play, but made their marker count the most.

“The way the game went with the penalties it was kinda tough to gain any momentum either way,” said Stafford.

“We expect a pretty good battle out of them. It’s a long season and we’re going to be seeing them quite a few times.

“Every time we see them we expect the same kind of game: physical, in your face, not a whole lot of room. I guess we’ve got to clean up the discipline.”



The Jets have two of their next four games against their foes in the Central, and have a stretch from Nov. 10 to Dec. 15 when 10 of their 16 games will be against the crews in their hood. A year ago Winnipeg was 16-8-5 in its own division, and those kind of numbers were huge in pushing them into the post-season.

But every point is hard-earned, every mistake potentially devastating.

“We had some plays that were there that we didn’t make,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice.

“And we’ll learn, when we talk a little bit more on the ice, we have to be a little quicker on those kinds of things.

“What was different about this game than some of the others is there wasn’t a lot of flow to it. There were a lot of penalties, and runs of penalties. The puck dropped and it was on, lots of penalties called and lots of penalties that could have been called. It was that kind of game.”

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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