Two of the NHL’s highest-scoring teams collide in Winnipeg
Winnipeg never has housed a team that won five of its first six games, even when the first edition of the Jets called the city home.
The St. Louis Blues, meanwhile, are on the verge of accomplishing that feat for the third time in four years.
Winnipeg looks to win its third straight while snapping the Blues’ three-game winning streak as its homestand continues Sunday.
The Jets are off to a 4-1-0 start after finishing with a franchise-best 99 points and making their first playoff appearance since relocating from Atlanta in 2011. They won three of a season-opening four-game road trip before kicking off a six-game homestand with Friday’s 3-1 victory over Calgary.
It’s the franchise’s best start since the Thrashers also won four of five to open the 2008-09 campaign.
Dustin Byfuglien scored the go-ahead goal with 1:28 left in the third period before Blake Wheeler added an empty-netter for his team-leading seventh point. Byfuglien has two goals and two assists, recording a point in four separate games.
"He’s a guy that’s fun to watch when he’s playing his game," forward Bryan Little said of Byfuglien. "He’s just so strong and big on the puck and he shows he’s got a nice pair of hands and a great shot, too.
"When he wants to take that puck to the net, there’s not many guys in this league that can stop him."
It’s unclear which St. Louis goaltender will have that responsibility. Brian Elliott has won all three of his starts with a 2.00 goals-against average, and Jake Allen made 31 saves in Friday’s 4-3 victory over Vancouver.
The Blues (4-1-0) have scored four goals each time during a three-game win streak which spanned four nights. Alexander Steen had a goal and an assist against the Canucks, and Vladimir Tarasenko and Carl Gunnarsson added two assists apiece. Tarasenko has a point in all five games and shares the team lead with Steen at seven.
Kyle Brodziak put St. Louis ahead by three less than four minutes into the third before Vancouver made it interesting.
"You could see the effects of playing three in four nights in the last five minutes," coach Ken Hitchcock said, "but we held it together."
This will be the fifth stop on a six-game trip for St. Louis, which has started at least 5-1-0 twice in the last three seasons.
The Blues may not have top-line center Paul Stastny, though, after he left early Friday after taking a shot to the lower leg and foot area. There’s been no official word on his status, and Hitchcock said Stastny, who has a goal and four assists, will be further evaluated prior to the game.
The Jets have scored 18 goals while the Blues have netted 17 to rank among the league’s highest-scoring teams, and Winnipeg likely will put Ondrej Pavelec in net as it tries to slow the St. Louis attack.
Pavelec faced 74 shots in his first two starts before stopping 19 of 20 on Friday. He won his final two starts against the Blues last season, making 32 saves in a 2-1 shootout win March 19 before posting a 30-save shutout April 7.
St. Louis had won seven straight in the series prior to those contests with Elliott falling in the first and Allen losing 1-0 in the most recent. Elliott has a 1.91 GAA in his last five starts against the Jets while Allen has stopped 58 of 61 shots over two career outings against Winnipeg.
- Alexander Steen
- Blake Wheeler
- Brian Elliott
- Bryan Little
- Carl Gunnarsson
- Dustin Byfuglien
- FOX Sports Midwest
- Jake Allen
- Kyle Brodziak
- Ondrej Pavelec
- Paul Stastny
- Vladimir Tarasenko
- Winnipeg Jets