The St. Louis Blues can complete their surge into the Olympic break with a victory over the Winnipeg Jets, who haven’t fared well in the series recently but have turned things around since a coaching change.
The Blues look to close out a successful four-game homestand with a third straight win this season over the Jets, who lost their last time out but have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL in the past three-plus weeks.
St. Louis (38-12-6) is 5-1-1 in its last seven after beating Boston 3-2 in overtime Thursday. T.J. Oshie scored in the extra period and Alexander Steen and Jaden Schwartz also had goals for St. Louis, which blew a 2-0 lead in the third period by allowing two goals in a 2:08 span.
St. Louis also blew a two-goal lead in the third of a shootout loss to Ottawa on Tuesday.
"We don’t want to get into a habit of this," Oshie said. "We work hard to get the lead and we’ve got to hold it, especially in our home barn."
Outshot 38-27, the Blues got a strong performance from Jaroslav Halak, who’s allowed two or fewer goals four times in his last five starts. He’s likely to be in net again Saturday as the pre-Olympic schedule comes to a close.
"I think when you play Boston it’s a great evaluator," said coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team kept the pressure on Anaheim and Chicago in the battle for the Western Conference lead. "… it also gives us a chance to know what we need to get better at. I think that’s what you’re looking for as a coach, leaving something from this game where we know what we’ve got to get better at and we’ve got a real good feel for that right now."
One of those areas is the power play, as the Blues went 0 for 3 against the Bruins to leave them 0 for their last 12.
St. Louis has won two in a row and gone 5-0-1 in the past six meetings with the Jets. The Blues won 2-1 on Dec. 10 at Winnipeg, the clubs’ third matchup of the season.
The Jets, though, are 9-3-0 since coach Paul Maurice took over last month. Winnipeg (28-26-5) had a three-game winning streak snapped with Thursday’s 4-2 setback at Washington.
Dustin Byfuglien’s goal in the second period – during which the Jets outshot the Capitals 16-7 – gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead, but it was outscored 3-0 in the final 20 minutes.
"We’ll leave this game entirely here," Maurice told the team’s official website. "We’re not bringing any of it on the plane. We will look at the things structurally that are part of every game, not just specific to the Washington game, and keep trying to get better."
The Jets have managed two goals in each of their last three games after scoring 15 in the previous four. Generating more offense could prove difficult against the Blues, who are second in the West with 132 goals allowed.
Steen, who broke a three-game goal drought Thursday, has scored five times during a four-game goal streak against the Jets. Oshie has five assists in a four-game point streak in the series.
Schwartz has two goals and three assists in his last three games.
Winnipeg leading scorer Bryan Little snapped a five-game goalless streak Thursday and has scored in each of past two meetings with the Blues.
The Jets’ Andrew Ladd has eight points in the last seven contests, while Evander Kane has seven in six.