Jets rally for comeback win against stingy Blues

Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler (from left) of the Winnipeg Jets celebrate Tobias...

Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler (from left) of the Winnipeg Jets celebrate Tobias Enstrom's game-tying goal against the St. Louis Blues during NHL action at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Fri., Oct. 18, 2013. (KEVIN KING/QMI Agency)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:34 AM ET

The Winnipeg Jets had more than enough opportunities to simply roll over, take their puck and go home.

Instead of doing so, the Jets found a way to rally against one of the stingiest defensive teams in the NHL, scoring twice in the third period to send the game in extra time before adding three goals in the shootout to earn a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night before a crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre.

“We had opportunities to get demoralized and get discouraged a bit,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel, whose squad improved to 4-4 on the young season. “Against a team that can close out games like St. Louis, we really stuck to the plan. It was good for us to play a complete game, to battle and to work.”

After talking about the importance of having a better start, the Jets were much more physical out of the gate and played with plenty of intensity.

But Jets defenceman Grant Clitsome lost an edge in the corner and fell to the ice, leaving David Backes to convert a pass from T.J. Oshie at 8:43 to give the Blues an early lead.

After Jets centre Olli Jokinen tied the game on a knuckle-puck at 15:30 of the first, a pair of goals from Winnipegger Alexander Steen put the Blues in position to lock this one down.

But a turnover by Roman Polak landed right on the stick of Bryan Little and he found Evander Kane, whose shot caromed in off the stick of Polak to make it a one-goal game at 13:13 of the third period.

“Sometimes you need something like that to happen,” said Jets winger Blake Wheeler. “We were generating offence, getting around the net and to get one to fall on your stick and get kind of a flukey goal off somebody’s stick or leg or whatever, sometimes it gives you all the jump you need. We were able to really build off that.”

The signs of life didn’t end there as Dustin Byfuglien, who played nearly 31 quality minutes, made a perfect cross-ice pass to Toby Enstrom, who evened the score with 1:54 left in regulation.

“Down 3-1 against a team like that, it takes a lot to come back,” said Little. “I’m not really sure what the turning point was. It was a good win against a good team and hopefully that gives us some confidence. That’s something we’ve been lacking lately.

“There were some things that didn’t exactly go our way. We made some mistakes but overall, we showed a lot of character coming back like that. It shows a lot about our commitment to winning.”

The fact the Jets came back was made even more impressive, considering rookie blue-liner Jacob Trouba left the game early in the second period with an apparent neck injury and fellow defenceman Mark Stuart left the game in the third period with what appeared to be a rib issue after crashing into the net.

“We got down to four D there and that can be tough at times, but you’re always in the game,” said Bogosian. “We did a good job of battling and we kept up a way better three-period effort than in the previous games.

“It feels good to win a game like that. We matched up their intensity pretty well and we were a lot more physical. That’s something we have to bring every night.”

Kane took two minor penalties to give him five in the past two games, so Noel sat him down for nearly 10 minutes during the second period.

“Obviously, it bothered me. I don’t enjoy not playing,” said Kane. “It gets you out of your game a little bit.”

It’s okay for Kane to be upset about the benching. At least he didn’t mope about it and actually did something to help his team after the lengthy breather.

That’s another sign of maturity for the winger.

“Evander plays with emotion and sometimes that gets him in trouble, possibly with penalties,” said Noel. “He played with emotion afterward. You certainly could see his speed, got back on the board. So things worked out okay for us.”

 


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