Sunday, March 13, 2022

Blues' 4-3 OT loss to Jets a result of poor start to third

Protecting 2-1 lead, Blues began flat, played flat, stayed back and 
allowed Jets to dictate play before fighting back for late goal to earn point

ST. LOUIS -- Forget about the deficiencies that cost the Blues another point in overtime of a 4-3 loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Go back a bit further than that.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington (50) makes one of his 33 saves in front
of Winnipeg's Pierre-Luc Dubois Sunday in a 4-3 OT loss.

The end result is what everyone will remember, a 2-on-1 Jets rush that ended when Pierre-Luc Dubois rifled home a one-timer from the right circle off a feed from Nikolaj Ehlers to drop the Blues (34-17-8) to 1-6 in games decided in the 3-on-3 competition. But the fact of the matter is the Blues, after two straight wins against quality opponents, lost this game when the puck dropped for the third period.

A team that came into Sunday’s contest 23-3-2 when holding a lead after the second period, had just taken that lead when Vladimir Tarasenko scored with 26.2 seconds left in the second to take a 2-1 lead.

Those are the kinds of goals that are uplifting to those that get them, deflating to those that surrender them.

The Jets (27-23-10) are a desperate hockey club, fighting for their lives in the standings among a logjam of teams trying to squeeze into one of two spots in the Western Conference wildcard, so the Blues had to figure a push was coming.

Problem is the Blues had no answers for the Jets start, and it showed.

Winnipeg pushed and pushed, they chipped pucks and they pursued. The Blues did not handle the pressure very well and surrendered the lead. It came in a 1:03 span when Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor scored to turn a 2-1 Blues lead into a 3-2 Jets lead.

Brayden Schenn, who scored the tying goal with goalie Jordan Binnington pulled for an extra attacker with 2:11 remaining, called it, “Just flat. Didn't come out with any energy and didn't really take care of the puck, I would say, and it forced us to play a lot of defense and they were able to capitalize.”

Yes, the Blues played too much defense, from the forwards to the defensemen, not moving the puck well, and it was evident the Blues were on their heels.

The Scheifele goal was only a matter of time, and when the Jets were pounding pucks into the Blues’ zone and at the net, they converged on a loose puck to bang it home. It came after Kyrou tried skating the puck out of the zone, and instead of flipping it into the Winnipeg zone, he got smoked from behind by Logan Stanley, shaking him up a bit, and Winnipeg went on the attack to tie it at 6:30. 

And on Connor’s tiebreaking goal at 7:33, it was a result of a Marco Scandella turnover up the middle of the ice.

Just like that, it was 3-2.

Berube called a time out to tear into his players for being flat.

“A little bit. We didn't push it enough. I called the timeout,” he said. “I thought we got going again more with that hard offense. But we just let them come out of their end too easily and we ended up playing in our end too much.”

As for the Scandella turnover?

“You’ve got to make a stronger play,” Berube said. “I haven't really looked at it yet, but listen, you’ve got to make a stronger play.”
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (left) works the puck away from Jets center
Mark Scheifele Sunday night at Enterprise Center.

The Blues at one point had been outshot 12-2 to begin the third period. They held the Jets to one shot over the final six minutes, and they did get the equalizer from Schenn, but it was the second time in seven games and third time in 15 they have squandered leads, only to lose the game.

“I just think the whole game. We maybe didn't have enough energy to the building tonight,” Schenn said. “They were a desperate team over there. At times I don't think we matched it at all.

“It was nice to get a point, but we've got to find a way to get two.”

“I didn't think the third period we pushed hard enough to get the next goal,” Berube said.

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