For a healthy chunk of the Winnipeg Jets tilt with the St. Louis Blues Monday night, it looked like they were destined for a fourth straight loss to head into the all-star break.
But a third period flurry keyed by Josh Morrissey helped the Jets recover from a two-goal deficit in an eventual 4-2 triumph.
Morrissey and Mark Scheifele each scored twice in the final frame as the Jets ended their three-game skid, and won for just the second time this season when trailing after two periods.
“Every guy was battling and every guy was doing the right thing,” said Scheifele. “And even when we got the lead, we kept doing the same thing, we got it in deep, got O-zone time, made plays, made passes, and that was huge.”
After getting shutout for the first two periods, the Jets appeared to be well on their way to a fourth straight loss. But Morrissey’s goal ended a 103 minute shutout streak, and flipped the momentum as they scored three goals in a little over seven minutes to take the lead for good.
“We were playing well,” said head coach Rick Bowness. “I know there was a lot of power plays, and the power play got a little disconnected there for awhile, but 5-on-5, we were happy with what we were doing. We had some great looks, and it was just a matter of staying with it.
“That team tonight – I told them after the game, they were not going to be denied tonight. Even though (Jordan) Binnington was outstanding and kept them in the game, we were not going to be denied, and that’s how we approached that third period.”
The Jets badly outshot the Blues 19-7 in the second period, but just could not solve Binnington.
“Binnington was making some big saves,” Scheifele said. “I don’t think we tested him quite enough, caught a lot of pucks, was able to kill a bunch of plays. But that third period, we just kept on coming in waves and waves and waves, and got to the net, and good things happen when you go to the net.”
Upset with his so called difference makers after Saturday’s loss, Bowness completely shuffled his forward lines, dropping Nikolaj Ehlers down to the fourth line to start the game. By the time the third period rolled around the Jets lines were looking more normal, and those difference makers left their mark in the final frame.
“You get in the situation like we’ve been in – we’ve lost three in a row,” said Bowness. “We haven’t played well at all, the big guys have to step up, and they all did tonight.”
The Jets now have at least a point in their last nine straight games against St. Louis where they have an 8-0-1 record.
With a pair of markers, Scheifele hit the 30-goal plateau for the third time in his career and the first since 2019.
Despite all their recent struggles, the Jets enter the all-star break just a point out of first place in the Western Conference.
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Neither side was able to find the back of the net in the first period despite each getting 12 shots on goal, though the Jets had the better of the chances. They also had a four-minute power play but only managed one shot during the four minutes. The Blues also failed on an early chance with the man advantage.
That trend continued in the second as Winnipeg continued to funnel shots toward Binnington, but the Blues goaltender was turning aside all comers, and the Jets power play continued to falter, failing on four tries with the man advantage.
There were some audible boos heard from some fans during the final failed power play.
Given the Jets’ scoring struggles of late, it seemed almost fitting that St. Louis cashed in on their only power play chance in the period.
With Nate Schmidt in the box, Winnipeg cleared the puck down the ice but as they changed penalty killers, Binnington got the puck to Torey Krug who hit Jake Neighbours with a stretch pass. Neighbours walked in alone and beat Connor Hellebuyck to open the scoring.
In live time, it appeared that the play may have been offside, but the Jets decided against challenging it once seeing video that showed it was a legit zone entry.
Despite outshooting the Blues 19-7 in the second, Winnipeg trailed 1-0 after 40 minutes, and it got worse just moments into the third.
After Dylan Samberg made a questionable pinch, Josh Leivo got free along the boards for a 2-on-1. Kyle Capobianco decided to try and take Leivo, who found a wide open Nikita Alexandrov streaking in alone. The rookie made no mistake for his third career goal, beating Hellebuyck to give the Blues a 2-0 advantage just 2:02 into the third.
That’s when Josh Morrissey put the team on his back.
Just 40 seconds after the Blues scored, the Norris Trophy contender raced up the ice and ripped a wrister past Binnington before letting out a huge celebration, looking at the crowd as he skated up the boards towards centre ice, imploring them to make some noise.
The energy seemed to be shifting in Winnipeg’s favour as the third period went along, and just before the midway point, the team’s big guns tied the game.
After the Blues turned the puck over to Kyle Connor in the St. Louis end, the forward found Nikolaj Ehlers in the corner, who quickly passed it back to Scheifele in the slot for the tying goal.
It was the 30th of the season for Scheifele while Connor picked up his 200th career assist.
The building ignited when Morrissey gave the team the lead just 21 seconds later, sending one on goal off the rush that glanced off Brayden Schenn and past Binnington.
From there, the Jets went into shutdown mode, allowing just two shots the rest of the way before Scheifele put the game on ice with an empty-netter.
Hellebuyck turned aside 24 shots as Winnipeg avoided its first four-game losing skid of the season, while Binnington stopped 35 shots as the Blues’ losing streak reached five games.
Hellebuyck and Morrissey will now head to Florida to take part in the All-Star game while the rest of the team takes time off. They will return to action Feb. 11 at home against Chicago.