Jets, Blues welcome back-to-back home-and-home matchups
ST. LOUIS — Mark the coaches of both the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues down as being in favor of the rare back-to-back, home-and-home series.
“I wish they were all like that,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “It’s fair for travel, unless you get stuck at the airport for a few hours. I like them a lot. It’s fun for the coaching part of it, too, areas you need to get better, anticipate adjustments they’re going to make in the game. I’m a big fan.”
Maurice’s Jets won’t have to wait long to get a chance to try to rebound from a 2-0 loss to the Blues on Saturday night in St. Louis, when they could get a puck past backup goalie Carter Hutton, who made a career-high 48 saves in posting his ninth career shutout.
The two teams play again Sunday night in Winnipeg, marking the first time since the Jets relocated to Winnipeg in 2011 they have played a home-and-home series on consecutive nights.
It’s the only time the Blues are doing it this season. They play the Chicago Blackhawks in consecutive games in the final week of the season, but they have a day off between those games in Chicago and St. Louis.
“It makes for fun hockey, emotional hockey and I think the crowd gets into it,” said Blues’ coach Mike Yeo. “It’s always fun, especially teams in your own division, it brings out the intensity in the competitors. Obviously, there’s a little familiarly, within coaches there’s an adjustment. I think it’s fun in the sense it gives you more of that playoff feel.”
Both teams started their backup goalies for the game in St. Louis, meaning Jake Allen will get the start for the Blues on Sunday night against Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets.
The Blues likely will not get a performance from Allen to match that of Hutton but they do hope to continue what they got from their special-team units, scoring a pair of power-play goals and also killing off four power-play chances for the Jets.
The Blues had scored only two power play goals combined in their previous six games.
“We had a lot of solid efforts tonight,” said Yeo, whose team had lost its two previous home games this week, scoring only one goal total. “We asked the guys for a lot of little things and we saw that. I think it was big to get something on the power play.”
The Jets know if they can put as many shots on goal on Allen as they did against Hutton, they should finally be able to get some in the net.
“We spent a lot of time in their zone, not just chasing the puck but controlling it, and had really good offensive chances,” said the Jets’ Blake Wheeler. “The power play, I thought we were set up for almost all of it and our breakouts were good. It was clean. It was crisp. We made the right plays and you know the best penalty killer sometimes is the goalie and that was the case tonight.”