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Jets try to remain perfect against Blues this season

Mar 18, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Winnipeg Jets players celebrate after the game winning goal by defenseman Neal Pionk (4) in overtime against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets will seek to complete a season sweep of the Blues when they face their Central Division rival Sunday night in St. Louis.

The Jets won the teams’ previous meetings 4-0 on Oct. 24, 5-2 on Dec. 8 and 4-2 on Jan. 30.

Winnipeg (39-28-3, 81 points) is coming off a 3-2 overtime victory at the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Nikolaj Ehlers and Adam Lowry scored third-period goals for the Jets, and Neal Pionk scored the overtime winner.

“We were very happy with our overall team game for 60 minutes,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “We were very confident that (if) we kept doing what we were doing, the forecheck was working, we had some good looks off the rush, so finally the puck went in, Nik made a great shot, and we went from there.”

Ehlers’ goal provided the breakthrough after Winnipeg’s frustrating second period.

“We spent more time in their zone; we didn’t generate much from it,” Bowness said. “What the guys did again, they just stayed with it. We kept saying just keep putting pucks on the net and see what happens. Give the guys credit; they found a way to win.”

Pierre-Luc Dubois returned from an upper-body injury to set up the winning goal.

“When he’s skating like that, he’s a powerful guy, he’s tough to knock off the puck,” Bowness said. “He make a great play there at the end.”

Connor Hellebuyck tended goal for the Jets in Nashville, so David Rittich could make his only start against the Blues on Sunday.

Mark Scheifele (three goals, two assists), Josh Morrissey (two goals, three assists), Kyle Connor (goal, three assists), Blake Wheeler (goal, three assists) and Dubois (two goals, one assist) have played well against St. Louis.

The Blues (30-33-5, 65 points) have won three of their last five games after winning just one of their previous nine. Their 5-2 road victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday was a nice rebound from their 8-5 loss at home to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.

“The other night against (Minnesota), it was one stretch of time in the second period where it kind of collapsed on us,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “But overall, I think we’ve had the energy and the compete level that we’ve wanted, and our team’s bonding together. We’ve got some new faces, and I think it’s going in the right direction.”

St. Louis has been getting strong production from Pavel Buchnevich, who has seven goals and 12 assists during an 11-game point streak, and Jordan Kyrou, who has five goals and two assists during his four-game streak.

Newcomers Jakub Vrana (four goals, one assist in six games) and Kasperi Kapanen (three goals in nine games) have added some scoring depth.

The Blues again will play without goaltender Jordan Binnington, who will complete a two-game NHL suspension for hitting Wild forward Ryan Hartman in the head with his blocker on Wednesday.

Rookie Joel Hofer filled in for Binnington and earned the victory Friday against Washington.

–Field Level Media

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