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Home is no help as Blues fall to Winnipeg 5-2

Tom Timmermann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Hockey

Success does not beget success, at least not for the Blues.

Coming off an encouraging, for the most part, performance in two games in New York (even if it earned them only one win), the Blues could not keep the good times going on Thursday in their return to Enterprise Center. They had little answer for Central Division-leading Winnipeg on offense or defense, even if they did make a game of it, sort of.

The Blues fell 5-2 and have lost seven of their past nine. It’s the ninth straight game the Blues have allowed four or more goals, and the sixth in the past nine they’ve allowed five or more, though empty-net goals, like the one Winnipeg had on Thursday, have padded those totals. Earlier this season in Winnipeg, the Blues were shut out 4-0.

Thomas Greiss, who was in goal for the Blues' win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, got the starting nod over Jordan Binnington, starting consecutive games for the first time this season as Craig Berube looked to give Binnington a reset. And while he made some nice saves early in the game, it was a goal in the third period, on a shot by Pierre-Luc Dubois from a tough angle that hit his arm and went in that loomed large. After the goal, Greiss looked to the rafters in frustration. The goal put Winnipeg up 4-1, which mattered when Josh Leivo tipped in a pass from Ryan O’Reilly with 9:17 to go. Instead of being a one-goal game, the Blues trailed by two and the comeback was going to be that much harder.

Besides the goal by Leivo, the Blues got a goal from Robert Thomas. They have a rare Saturday night off before playing Colorado on Sunday afternoon at Enterprise Center.

Jets strike twice

The Blues went into the second period down 1-0 but that feeling of having hung in was short-lived.

Just 27 seconds into the second, a pass by Winnipeg’s Michael Eyssimont somehow got past both Ryan O’Reilly and Calle Rosen to Kyle Connor, and with the Blues in pursuit he beat Greiss to make it 2-0.

Colton Parayko was called for tripping Pierre-Luc Dubois three minutes later, and any penalty by the Blues now is not a good one with the struggles their power play is going through. Coming into the game, the Blues had given up a goal on five of the eight previous times they had to kill a penalty in the previous four games. Sure enough, 40 seconds into the Winnipeg power play, Greiss made two saves, but after the second, the puck fell into the crease and Blake Wheeler got ahead of Niko Mikkola and backhanded the rebound in to make it 3-0 with 15:54 to go in the second. That meant that over a five-game span, Blues’ opponents had scored on two-thirds of their power plays. Not good.

 

With just under 16 minutes to go in the period, that looked to be plenty of time for Winnipeg to get a third goal and extend the Blues’ streak of games where the opponent scored at least three goals in one period to nine, but the Blues didn’t allow another goal the rest of the period, no small feat.

Thomas gets the Blues on the board

The Blues had a power play starting 8:25 to go in the second that was so ineffective that Blues fans started booing in the middle of it. Though they managed two shots on goal during it, it was one of the low points for the Blues offense.

Blues center Robert Thomas had not had a smooth night with the puck, but he got the Blues on the board with 1:24 to go in the second. Vladimir Tarasenko came with the puck behind the Winnipeg goal and passed to Thomas open near the left circle and with ample time, beat Connor Hellebuyck to the short side to make it 3-1. It was the sixth goal of the season for Thomas.

Jets strike first

Winnipeg had threatened with a flurry of shots with just under 8 minutes to go in the first period, but Greiss made a left pad save on the first and then Niko Mikkola and Noel Acciari blocked rebound attempts before Greiss froze the puck.

It didn’t work so well about four minutes later. Winnipeg’s Logan Stanley took a shot from the right side that was well wide, but banked off the end boards to Mark Scheifele on the left side of the net. Tyler Pitlick kept him from shooting, but Scheifele threw the puck in front of the net and Pierre-Luc Dubois squeezed between Greiss and the post.

Winnipeg was down a player after losing forward Saku Maenalanen on his second shift of the game. He was checked into the boards by Mikkola and went to the bench with what looked an arm injury and went straight down the hall to the dressing room and didn’t return.

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