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Jets face Blues in continuing push for first in Central

Feb 25, 2024; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets left wing Kyle Connor (81) celebrates his overtime goal with Winnipeg Jets left wing Nikolaj Ehlers (27) against the Arizona Coyotes at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets have won three games in a row and six of their past seven. Though they’ve been picking up points as they battle for first in the Central Division, their game isn’t where they’d like it to be.

It’s something they’re monitoring as they prepare to host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

“I’m not concerned about it,” coach Rick Bowness said. “We have to stay on top of it, yes. It’s going to happen. You play 82 games. Every game is not a Picasso. It’s not. When you see little things creeping in, we address it. So, we’ll stay on top of it.”

Winnipeg scored two power-play goals in building a 3-1 lead in the first period against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. The Coyotes scored early in the second and third periods to tie it, before Kyle Connor secured a 4-3 win for the Jets 33 seconds into overtime.

It has been nearly two weeks (Feb. 14 against the San Jose Sharks) since they last held an advantage in possession in a game. Only once since then have they outscored an opponent at five-on-five, doing so against the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 20.

The Jets entered the week one point behind the Dallas Stars, who were in action on Monday, for first place in the division and will have played four fewer games than Dallas going into Tuesday.

After putting up five points in three games early in January, it has been a struggle for Cole Perfetti over the past month and a half. The 22-year-old is mired in a 16-game goal drought and has only one assist in that stretch, against the Islanders on Jan. 16.

“I’m anxious for it to turn for me, personally,” he said. “But at the same time, just do whatever I can (to help the team).”

The Blues enter the matchup looking to inch closer to the Nashville Predators, who hold the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. St. Louis trails by four points but has played two fewer games.

The Blues are coming off a 6-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Detroit opened the scoring just 33 seconds into the first period and the Blues were down 3-0 less than 5 1/2 minutes into the game. They trailed 4-0 after the first period.

Jordan Binnington allowed four goals on 14 shots before being replaced by Joel Hofer, but interim coach Drew Bannister noted it wasn’t the fault of the netminders.

“I think we had 22 or 24 turnovers in the first period, which is usually what we would have over a game,” Bannister said. “To have that many turnovers, that many odd-man rushes going the other way, to put that kind of pressure on our goalies and expect them to make saves and keep us in a game, that’s just not going to happen against any team in the NHL.”

Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, first and third on the team in points, respectively, were benched for all but one third-period shift that lasted 39 seconds. Thomas entered the game with 19 points (three goals, 18 assists) in his previous 13 games.

“They’re not the only players,” Bannister said. “We had a large group of players obviously that didn’t show up. … We’ll address it within the room and we’ll move forward on it. But as a group, we have to be better.”

–Field Level Media

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