In one of the most dramatic games of the season, the Jets got down 4-1 after two periods, made a furious comeback to tie things at 4, and lost tragically after a floater from mid-ice beat the goalie not-named Hutchinson with just 1:03 left.
(1) Jets Goaltending
The storyline in goal for the first 59 minutes of the game was how Michael Hutchinson let in 4 goals on just 7 shots, good for a .429 save %. Following that, Ondrej Pavelec came in and played hero, stopping the first 19 shots he faced. All that ended with Jackman's shot from outside the blueline. No words.
(2) Blues Goaltending
On the Blues' end, Brian Elliot was hardly better. He let in 4 goals on 16 shots, and was picked apart glove side, as goals by Ladd, Stempniak, and Wheeler all went glove. Not sure if Wade Flaherty and co. used video to identify the glove as a weakness, but Drew Stafford narrowly missed giving the Jets a lead with 3:17 left in the third, when he went off the cross bar - guess where, glove hand. The other goal was a weak one from Frolik which beat him five-hole. If we learned anything tonight, it's that bad goaltending makes for incredibly exciting games.
(3) Fight Night
Was there something in the air tonight? Because tensions were high. We saw three bouts - one of which was expected, and two of which were not. While no one was shocked to see Anthony Peluso and Ryan Reeves square off in a heavy-weight tilt, I don't think Tyler Myers and Alex Steen were expecting to fight nor was Jets' call-up Eric O'Dell, who responded to an open-ice hit by Ott with just 6:30 left in the game (and the Jets down 4-3). Not great timing, but I'm sure O'Dell knew that Wheeler would tie the game up short-handed.
(4) Cue the Comeback
After Andrew Ladd scored on the pp to make it 4-2, Lee Stempniak sniped off the right-post just 11 seconds later to really make this a game. Stempniak is a nice depth addition who can slot in on the third line on most teams, and he scored a huge goal here. When Blake Wheeler spotty a little shorty to tie things up at 4, all hope was restored, and it felt like the Jets were primed for the win.
(5) Jets' PK did the Job
While the Blues scored on their first pp of the game - A Vladimir Tarasenko shot which hit a Jet in front and beat Hutchison - the Jets killed off the next 4, including a 5-on-3 in the third when they were down just 4-3. While no one should be surprised to see Stuart and Trouba out there down two men, the coach showed a lot of faith by putting out young Adam Lowry. If he can improve his offensive game a tad, the Jets have their 3rd line centre of the future.
Tyler Myers was a beast today, both literally and figuratively. He played 27:30, pummeled Alex Steen, was active in the offensive zone when the Jets were pressing to tie in the third, and assisted on the tying goal by Blake Wheeler. He now has 9 points in 11 games as a Jet, and is surpassing even the high expectations that many had for him. Along with Jacob Trouba, it's hard to imagine two better young building blocks on the right-side of the Jets' defence.
(7) Blues Loaded with Young Talent
Save the talk about Vladimir Tarasenko - he's amazing, and let's leave it at that. Let's talk about the relatively unheralded Jaden Schwartz - a small player with great speed, skill, and smarts. He darts around with purpose, is both a playmaker and a finisher, and plays a "two-hundred foot game" that will only improve as he grows older. (He's just 22). In my opinion, he's one of the most underrated players in the NHL. Throw in Dmitrij Jaskin and the Blues have a great trio of young forwards who are still in the midst of establishing themselves. Ty Rattie might be in the NHL on a lesser team, but he can't even crack this squad yet. (This brief summary doesn't even take into consideration the established young defencemen they have like Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, and back-up goalie, Jake Allen.)
(8) Injuries on the Blues' Defence
While the Jets comeback is to be commended, I wonder if they get that close if the Blues defence is intact. They played tonight without two of their top-3 - Jay Bouwmeester and Kevin Shattenkirk - and Zbynek Michalek was also out, which makes three of their top four or five. Suffice to say, I don't think the Blues expect Butler, Bortuzzo and Lindbohm to suit up as a group very often in the playoffs.
(9) Back-door passes
Is it just me, or were back-door passes flavour of the day? Blake Wheeler was forcing it out there every chance he got on the pp, most notably to Toby Enstrom for the game's first good chance. The Blues made similar use of the play, including late in the third where it looked like they might put the game away on their last pp. I didn't (and typically don't) tally this kind of play, but it seemed like each team must have had at least 5 each.
(10) Pavelec played great...until he didn't
Rather than belabor the point, let's talk about what this means. Hutchinson was playing his 7th straight game, and the talk prior to puck drop was that Pavelec might get one or two more starts the rest of this season. And after an incredible effort to knot the game at 4, the players looked noticeably dejected after Jackman's harmless shot beat the hapless Pavelec. Does Pavelec play again this season? Probably. But with the gap tightening further (LA and Minnesota won tonight), the pressure is higher than ever. Hutchinson has performed better all year long, and it's hard to imagine the team having an ounce of confidence in Pavelec after that pathetic display.