Connor Hellebuyck chose a terrible moment to provoke a leak. And now, a Winnipeg Jets team that has been taking water for weeks is about to sink completely.
Hellebuyck was beaten four times on Friday – one could argue that all four had a certain aroma – while the Jets lost 4-3 against the St. Louis Blues at Bell MTS Place. They are now heading to Missouri with a 2-0 loss in the playoff series, their once-promising season being in the balance.
Ryan O'Reilly broke a tie early in the third period with perhaps the sweetest of the evening, going directly through Hellebuyck alongside the bottom blockers to give the Blues an undeniable lead.
"I'd rather watch a video before discussing it – that's all I'm going to say," said Hellebuyck, rather provocatively, as a result of a question about knowing s & # 39; He wanted the victor's return.
"I would like every goal I let in. It's a thorny issue, I'm going to prepare myself in the same way and make sure my game is ok, and we're going to give it back to them", a- he declared. .
"I just have to keep fighting, keep fighting and show everyone that I'm going to be the rock behind them."
Keeping the goals shaking was certainly a major scenario, but not the only one. A number of other recent diseases have also been taken into account in the last result. Undisciplined penalties. Breakdowns in their own end. And an inability to stay ahead once again.
Stop us if you've heard this before.
No, the Jets have not looked good for a while. And this last effort is a microcosm of many team problems. Flashes of greatness mingled with far too many self-inflicted wounds.
"We have a lot of confidence in the team we have here – it's a tough hole to come out, but some very good teams have come out," said striker Adam Lowry after the match .
"I do not think we're frustrated, I think most of the time we played two pretty solid games, it's just a couple of breakaways … I feel like we're here."
Winnipeg has gained momentum. A crowd on fire, probably well lubricated, who had plenty of time to prepare for 20:30. release of the washer. Hoosli at home with powerful interpretations of The stars and stripes and O Canada. A game of early power.
Maybe, just maybe, it would be their night. The rookie sensation, Jordan Binnington, was surely going to collapse under pressure, right?
And then, Mark Scheifele lost his head. First, he denied the men's advantage by eliminating Alex Steen for some reason, which was not at all close to the puck. This is the interference of the textbooks.
The Blues were undoubtedly delighted with their gracious gift, opening the mark of four against four that ensued. Jets defender Josh Morrissey was trapped and Oskar Sundqvist defeated Hellebuyck from the blockers. It was a beautiful picture, of course. But this is a problem that Hellebuyck must stop. What would become a theme throughout the night.
Scheifele apparently was not content with an unfortunate offense. He dubbed a few minutes later by passing O-Reilly from behind. It was foolish because he took the center of St. Louis on the numbers.
Then, Andrew Copp came on the scene, forcing O & # 39; Reilly back with Scheifele still in the box. This put the Jets down on two men for 17 seconds. Alex Pietrangelo rang the goal near the crossbar as the Jets were about to get completely off the ground.
"I have no problem with (the penalties) .You must know the temperature of the game. So, if you are in match 1, I'm not sure that there is a call. who were going were far more physical than those, you have to adapt and we did it.We understood that it would not be allowed to bang in the same way, then reduce it. 39 was different … it's not a complaint .. I want to be clear about it, I do not complain about it, "said coach Paul Maurice about the game indiscipline.
"It was just different tonight than in the first game, so you're ready for this kind of match, it's going to be very physical, then you'll get the message early on that it will not be allowed to be physical. it was not. "
One of the things about sport is the opportunity to redeem yourself. Copp and Scheifele earned theirs later in the period, preparing Wheeler for the tying goal. Copp had the puck after coming out of the box and fed Scheifele, who had a perfect training behind the Blues net.
On the power play, Winnipeg's power play started early in the second after Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo hit high, Nikolaj Ehlers, which temporarily ended the Jets wing.
Patrik Laine did not waste time to give advance to the local team, sending a Wheeler ball home from his usual location just 19 seconds from the advantage. It was the second goal in as many games for Laine, who had scored only one goal in his last 19 regular season games.
A lead for the Jets, just like the one they won in the third period of the first match. But as was the case on Wednesday night, everything started to crumble.
Patrick Maroon, who was organizing Tyler Bozak's match 1 winner, scored a juicy rebound against Hellebuyck just under four minutes after Laine's goal. The Jets were guilty of a soft cover on their side and Hellebuyck did not follow the puck very well.
Then Sundqvist scored 3-2 about halfway through the period as he had been inexplicably given too much time and space, dividing the defense and shooting into Hellebuyck's five holes. Once again, it's a puck that the former Vezina Trophy finalist has to stop.
Scheifele went one step further at the atonement for his previous sins by scoring while there was a little more than a minute left in the middle of the second period, again with his team taking advantage of a men's advantage.
It should be noted that Dustin Byfuglien scored both power play goals in the second period. The veteran defender was finally relocated to the first unit early in the game after six games since returning from injury, stuck in unit # 2.
Byfuglien was clearly injured during the stick game during a regular season game last week in Minnesota, while Jacob Trouba stayed behind for the benefit of two minutes.
After watching Byfuglien get to work on Friday and offer him two helpers, one has to wonder what took so long in Mauritius.
However, the link would be short-lived.
O & # 39; Reilly delivered the dagger barely 3:46 in the third period, beating Hellebuyck again through the wickets. The Jets were unable to get another puck past Binnington, who finished with 26 saves.
Hellebuyck stopped 28 shots.
"They did not win, we have a lot of heart here and we will fight, every inch, every battle," said Hellebuyck.
"It's a team game, and as I said, we're going to fight, nothing is over." Two-oh is not the end of the world. "
Brandon Tanev returned to the lineup after missing three games with a hand injury, but Mathieu Perreault was unavailable after being injured in the upper body during the morning session.
Winnipeg has now lost five straight games in home regulation since the end of the regular season. They have also lost four consecutive playoff games at Bell MTS Place since last year's Western Conference final against Vegas.
The Jets are now faced with the daunting task of winning four of the next five games. They will have their first chance Sunday night at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
"You have to win four games to win a series, never met a team that won two to win a series, so everything is fine," said Wheeler.
"At this time of year, you have to get results, so go to St. Louis and take care of your business."
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to become a professional wrestler. But when this dream collapsed, he put all his energy into becoming a professional writer.
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