The last time we saw the St. Louis Blues around these parts, they were breaking the hearts of Winnipeg Jets fans and ultimately ending a season that began with so much promise.
Although the stakes were much lower Friday night at Bell MTS Place, the result was similiar as the Blues skated away with a 4-3 overtime victory. Winnipeg falls to 1-1-1 in exhibition action.
St. Louis brought several players from their championship squad, including goalie Jake Allen, No. 1 centre Ryan O’ Reilly and defencemen Jay Bouwmeester. The Jets iced a less-experienced group but proved to be a game opponent.
"Even though it’s a pre-season game, I think we deserved more. But thats the way it goes," said Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers, who led the way offensively with a goal and assist. "You want to win every game, no matter what type of game it is. I think we played a really good game, we worked hard. Tough luck."
We’re guessing Blues head coach Craig Berube loved the hard-nosed start by his team, which included Sammy Blais steamrolling defencemen Cam Schilling, then feeding linemate Klim Kostin for a crease-crashing opening goal. Kostin showed off his playmaking skills later in the first period, setting up Manitoba product Joel Edmundson to make it 2-0.
Ehlers showed off his speed when he intercepted a pass and scored on a breakaway, beating Allen through the five-hole to cut the deficit in half. Ehlers looked to have tied the game in the middle frame when he wired a shot off the crossbar, but it was Adam Lowry who was given credit for banging in the rebound. Andrew Copp made a terrific pass to set it up.
Winnipeg took the lead with just over three minutes left in the third period as Gabriel Bourque buried a nifty pass from Mark Letestu. But with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Perron beat Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck for the equalizer with 32 seconds left. Perron capped off a good night by spinning and firing the winner off the post at 1:58 of overtime.
"All in all, I liked the way I felt and I liked a lot of things in my game, but I don’t like losing. So I’m going to come back to the drawing board and get better," said Hellebuyck, who was beaten four times on 19 shots.
D VILLE HEINOLA: Jets head coach Paul Maurice praised his pre-season debut Wednesday, and there was much to like about the 18-year-old’s second game Friday. Heinola, paired with Neal Pionk, made a couple of very notable strong reads to interrupt stretch passes by St. Louis early in the game. Absorbed a huge hit with ease, and did some good work on the penalty kill.
Also earned his first NHL point, albeit an unofficial one since it’s pre-season, with the second assist on Bourque’s goal. Was trapped on the ice for an extended shift when Perron scored the winner.
Played 17:59 and had two blocks and two giveaways.
F JACK ROSLOVIC: playing on what was the No. 1 line on this night with Copp and Lowry, Roslovic showed flashes, as he always seems to. But there were also times where he was invisible. Consistency is key for the young winger, who has a chance to earn an increased offensive role this season.
Created a great scoring chance with Copp with a slick toe-drag, then had another shift where he led a one-man cycle down low. Also had a quality chance of his own off a rebound, but was denied by Allen.
Played 17:31 — including 5:11 on a power play that went 0-for-4 — with two shots on goal, one hit and one block.
D LOGAN STANLEY: his 6-7 frame was on full display, especially with some strong work on the penalty kill, which went 3-for-3. Was aggressive, too, in playing the body and making some neutral-zone pinches, and never seemed to get caught out of position.
Had an assist, which was taken away when Ehlers’ goal was changed to Lowry, but the reigning Manitoba Moose rookie of the year certainly has a shot to make an impact on the blue-line for the Jets this season.
Played 17:15, with two hits and two blocks.
F MARK LETESTU: a high-event night for the veteran centre. First, he whiffed on what looked like an easy tap-in goal after Pionk set him up. Then, on the Blues’ second goal, Edmundson blew by him in the neutral zone to create a two-on-one with Kostin. His lack of speed is a valid concern as he looks to crack the opening-night roster.
Letestu had a highlight-reel assist late in the third period to set up Bourque for what was the go-ahead goal at the time. Had one shot, one hit, 64 per cent success in the faceoff circle and 17:34 time on ice.
F KRISTIAN VESALAINEN: not a whole lot to see out there. Vesalainen’s biggest flaw is his reluctance to use what is a very powerful shot. Had several chances to pull the trigger but was too pass-happy. He needs to get a bit greedy.
He also took a holding-the-stick penalty after a prolonged shift stuck in his own end. Played 16:58, with no shots, one giveaway and two hits.
After eight straight days of on-ice sessions, including three games, the Jets will enjoy a day away from the rink on today. Winnipeg returns to action on Sunday at Bell MTS Place when the Calgary Flames pay a visit for the fourth of seven pre-season games.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
Updated on Friday, September 20, 2019 at 11:07 PM CDT: Edits