It was a night where, from a coaching stand point, it could have been a game to forget. When a team wins just one of five games coaches have tough decisions to make, and that was the case for Winnipeg coach Claude Noel on Friday as the Jets faced the St. Louis Blues.
To start, he revamped his defence pairings and chose not to dress Eric Tangradi and Devin Setoguchi. He watched 19-year-old defenceman Jacob Trouba get carried off on a stretcher in the second period after going head first into the boards on an offensive zone fore-check. He sat Evander Kane a few shifts after Kane took his second minor penalty of the game and fifth in the last two games, lost defenceman Mark Stuart early in the third as he slid into the post trying to break up an odd man rush, and saw his team down 3-1 in the third period to a very good defensive team.
On the "D" pairings, Noel was looking for more balance and more consistency from the back end. Zach Bogosian had been playing his off side, something that had to be short term. So Bogosian was paired with Toby Enstrom, Grant Clitsome with Dustin Byfuglien and Stuart with Trouba. The left/right balance was perfect.
"You have to shake things up when you're not happy with the way things are going. We had to get more from people. It was enough, we needed to compete harder," said Noel of the changes and sitting the two veterans.
Patrice Cormier and Anthony Peluso drew into the lineup in place of Tangradi and Setoguchi. Cormier was recalled from St. John's Wednesday because of injuries the Jets have been dealing with.
It appears Trouba is going to be okay and a timetable on his return right now does not matter – his health does. Kane played a key role in the comeback, and the four remaining defencemen did an outstanding job and were also key in the comeback, especially Enstrom and Byfuglien.
The Jets had a much better start to this game despite giving up the first goal to David Backes. Olli Jokinen tied the game before a late first period goal by Alexander Steen gave the Blues the lead.
On both of the Blues' first period goals the Jets had possession of the puck but gave it away. The Blues hit three goal posts and a cross bar in the first and Ondrej Pavelec in a post-game interview was the first to acknowledge that it could have been a different score after one.
Steen's seventth of the year early in the third made it a 3-1 game, and the Blues do not surrender two goals leads very often. But the Jets stayed with the game plan and were able to take advantage of a turnover in the Blues' zone.
Kane's shot went off the sticks of both Blues defencemen and in to bring the Jets to within one with 6:47 to go. With just under two minutes left in regulation, Byfuglien made a great play to keep the puck in in the zone and eventually set up Enstrom for a one-timer that tied the game.
Overtime did not produce a goal and just like the first time the Blues played at MTS Centre, the game went to a shootout.
With Blues up 2-1 in the shootout, Bryan Little, the Jets third shooter, had to score to keep the Jets alive and he did. Pavelec stopped the next four Blues shooters before Jokinwn put the Jets ahead giving Pavelec centre stage to win the game with a save on Chris Stewart, which he did.
It was the second time this season the Jets (now 4-4 and 3-3 at home) came from two down to win. They did the same in Edmonton on opening night. Two games remain on the team's current six-game home stand with Nashville Sunday and Washington Tuesday. Both games will be on TSN Jets and, as always, on TSN 1290.
Coach Noel also had these post-game comments – "We played a way better game. Played harder, battled harder. We had reasons to be discouraged, but we got a break that lead to our second goal. We were patient."
When asked if that was the best he has seen Byfuglien play: "Yes, he's been very consistent, very focussed."
On the Trouba incident: "Pretty scary. Never a good moment when a stretcher comes out. For either team. But it looks like he will be okay." It was the second time this week the Blues have seen that happen, as San Jose's Dan Boyle went off on a stretcher Tuesday after a hit by Maxim Lapierre in a game in St. Louis.
The Jets were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill against the league's second best power play. The Jets have now killed 25 of their last 28 penalties and 14 of the last 15 - the only power play goal in that stretch was Daniel Briere's with the Jets' net empty for an extra attacker. The Jets were 0-for-2 with the man advantage and, after scoring a power play goal in each of the first five games, have now gone three games without.