Kapanen, Hofer lead the way as Blues blank Jets
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kasperi Kapanen, Nathan Walker and Jakub Vrana each scored to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night.
Rookie goalie and Winnipeg native Joel Hofer started in his first home appearance with St. Louis and stopped 33 shots in his fourth NHL start to help the Blues win for the fourth time in six games.
"There’s obviously a little more motivation there, but I though the team played really well in front of me,” Hofer said about playing the Jets. “Obviously limited them to a lot of outside chances and it was nice to get the win, especially against those guys."
He didn't get the shutout because he had to leave the ice for a skate repair in the second period. Thomas Greiss had a save while filling in.
“It’s all right. I don’t really care about that,” Hofer said about the shutout.
“I’m just obviously happy to be here and to get the win in front of the home crowd, it was great.” Hofer started in place of the suspended Jordan Binnington on Friday and had 33 saves in a 5-2 win against Washington — his first NHL game since Nov. 13, 2021. Hofer, called up from Springfield of the AHL under emergency conditions Thursday after Binnington was suspended, is now 3-1-0 in the NHL.
“He’s not going down, but it’s great to see him play well,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. "It’s great to see him get a shutout tonight. Good job by the team in front of him. He’s doing a good job and he’s playing well, so he knows he can do the job.”
Connor Hellebuyck, starting for the second straight day, had 14 saves for the Jets, who have lost three of their last four games.
“You want to win games,” Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers said. "It doesn’t mean you have to win them with six goals every night but you want to score enough to win games and we haven’t been doing that. So, we know what we need to do; it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.”
Winnipeg fell short of completing a season sweep of the Blues after having won the teams' first three meetings by a combined 13-4 margin.
The Jets remain in the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, four points ahead of Calgary.
“We’re in eighth spot. You’d rather be in eighth spot than ninth,” coach Rick Bowness said. "Now it’s up to us to stay there and hopefully push up a little higher.”
From the side of the net, Kapanen redirected a pass from Nick Leddy past Hellebuyck at 4:04 of the first period, giving St. Louis a 1-0 lead. It was his fourth goal in 10 games with the Blues.
Walker increased the lead to 2-0 with 9:26 left in the second. Justin Faulk skated in down the left wing when he made a backhanded pass to Walker, who one-timed the puck from the side of the net.
Vrana wristed in a shot on a breakaway at 12 minutes of the third period after getting a pass from Kapanen. It was his fourth goal in four games.
Binnington served the second of his two-game suspension Sunday. Binnington was suspended by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct against Minnesota forward Ryan Hartman in the second period of St. Louis' 8-5 loss on Wednesday.
Play was halted at 4:55 of the second period when Hofer lost a skate blade while in net after making a save. After trying to replace it back, Hofer was forced to go back to the locker room for the repair. Greiss came in and made one save in 2:36 before Hofer returned.
“I guess it fell out,” Hofer said. “I didn’t even see the play actually and how it happened. We obviously got it fixed quick and got back in there quick. That’s never happened, no. I thought it was like a lace that broke to start off with.
"Obviously I saw the blade on the ice, so I didn’t really know what to do.”
Blues D Torey Krug received a game misconduct at 13:24 of the first period after his used his stick to slam on the penalty box glass,. He also was called for a double minor and given a 10-minute misconduct as well on the play.
Jets: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.
Blues: Host Detroit on Tuesday night.
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