WINNIPEG – A terrifying few minutes with a promising young defenceman crumpled on the ice marred the Winnipeg Jets’ 4-3 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday.
Jacob Trouba’s head-first crash into the boards in the second period, as he missed a hit on Blues’ defenceman Jordan Leopold, silenced the crowd and cleared both benches as players watched and waited.
The minutes ticked by until he was wheeled off on a stretcher but he managed a wave as fans shouted his name.
Just 19, the Jets’ top 2012 draft pick impressed his coaches at camp and fans with his aggressive all-out style. He has a goal and an assist this season.
“Trouba’s still getting evaluated but everything’s good, he’s got motion, he’s got everything,” said Winnipeg coach Claude Noel.
“I think they’re just running him through some tests to make sure everything’s fine.”
Trouba later joked about the incident on Twitter.
“Thanks for the support. If you were wondering, the boards are not edible. I’ll be back soon,” he said.
The game also ended on a positive note for the Jets after a dodgy beginning.
Olli Jokinen scored the winner and his second of the night in the seventh round to end a shootout the Jets (4-4-0) forced after overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the third.
“It definitely feels good when you win those,” said centre Bryan Little, who had an assist and kept the Jets in the shootout, along with captain Andrew Ladd, until Jokinen’s winner.
“It was a good win against a good team and hopefully that gives us some confidence. … We’ve got to believe we can beat teams like this on a nightly basis.”
“Although we were down 2-1 in the first, I thought we played a lot harder, we battled a lot harder for 60 minutes,” he said.
“We had opportunities to get demoralized and get discouraged a bit but I thought against a team that can really close out games like St. Louis, I thought we really stuck to the plan.”
Evander Kane and Tobias Enstrom, with the tying goal in the third, also scored for the Jets, while Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves.
Alexander Steen scored a pair against his hometown team as giveaways helped the Blues (5-1-1) to an early lead.
David Backes also scored for the Blues, who were playing for the second time in consecutive nights after Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over Chicago.
“It’s not a great feeling,” said Steen, who added he took no solace in walking away with a point after giving up a 3-1 lead.
“We gave away this one. We were up by two late in the game. We shouldn’t be giving away points like that.”
The Jets have been trying to overcome slow starts and seemed successful, at least at first Friday night.
They were even ahead on shots but it was Backes who scored first from the slot at 8:43. T.J. Oshie fed him the puck on a little defensive slip by Grant Clitsome.
It energized the Blues, but then Jokinen evened things up at 15:30 when he fired a bouncing rebound past St. Louis backup Brian Elliott, who finished with 26 saves in his first start this season.
The play also gave right wing Matt Halischuk his first point as a Jet for the assist.
Less than three minutes later though, Trouba whiffed on a pass and presented the puck to the Winnipeg-born Steen, as he skated into the slot to put the Blues ahead 2-1.
It could have been worse. The Blues also made Winnipeg’s goal posts ring like church bells in the first period.
Neither team scored on the power play in the first two periods, although the Jets only had one chance.
St. Louis had three, two thanks to Kane, who spent some time warming the Winnipeg bench after the second.
“We did a great job on the penalty kill, that was huge,” said Pavelec.
There were no penalties in the third but early in the period another Jets defenceman limped to the dressing room after Mark Stuart slid into his own net.
Steen was perfectly positioned beside the Winnipeg net at 3:34 of the third to one-time a rebound off Backes’s glancing shot from the boards and make it 3-1.
It looked like the game was pretty well over until Kane brought the Jets within one at 14:14, when his slapshot from outside the faceoff circle glanced off St. Louis defenceman Roman Polak’s stick.
Then Enstrom slammed home a pass from Dustin Byfuglien at 18:06 to tie it up.
Little and Ladd connected for the Jets in the shootout and Oshie and Steen hit for the Blues, until Jokinen beat Elliott on his glove side to win the game in the seventh round.
Follow Scott Edmonds on Twitter at @tsedmonds
Notes: Former Winnipeg Jet Thomas Steen (1981-95), father to Alexander and a Winnipeg city councillor, was on hand for the Blues’ second visit to the city since the Jets were reborn in 2011. His son didn’t play on their first.