WINNIPEG – No one was saying it was more than one or two lucky bounces.
But St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said his team definitely earned Kevin Shattenkirk’s power-play goal late in the third period that let them leave Winnipeg with a 2-1 win Tuesday.
“It was a seeing-eye shot but, if you look at the shift, we out-fought for three pucks just to get that opportunity, which is what happened for the whole third period, which was really impressive,” said Hitchcock.
The win over the Jets at least helps make up for the three out of four the Blues (20-6-3) lost coming into Winnipeg.
“As the game wore on, our confidence came back to fight for pucks and to battle,” said Hitchcock. “I thought the debris from what happened here in the last week or so started to eliminate and we just started to get our spirit back.”
Bryan Little scored for the Jets (14-14-4), who started a little slow but more than held their own in the first period, outshooting the Blues by an 8-2 margin.
It looked like Shattenkirk’s shot may have glanced off Little, among others, on the way into the Jets’ net.
“It was disappointing, just because we worked to get back in the game and tied it up and then they get one that bounces off a couple of things and goes in . . . right at the end of the game,” said Little, Winnipeg’s leading scorer with 13 goals and 28 points.
“To lose that way is definitely frustrating.”
Alex Steen got things started in the second with the Blues’ first goal.
He was behind the Winnipeg goal-line midway between the net and the boards at 4:44 when he slid a puck behind Ondrej Pavelec that banked off the Winnipeg goalie to put the Blues ahead 1-0.
Pavelec was focusing on those in front of the net rather than the Blues’ leading sniper to his right. It was Steen’s 21st goal of the season.
“It was a hard-fought game today, really tight net, both teams clogged neutral zones and D-zones,” said Steen, who was born in Winnipeg and is the son of original Jet Thomas Steen, now a city councillor in his adopted hometown.
“Both goalies played really well, it was a good game today, a fun game,” said Steen.
As for his shot, he shrugged it off.
“I don’t know. I try it every now and then in practice. I’ve tried it a couple of times in games”
Jets coach Claude Noel was disappointed with the loss but not unhappy with the way his team played the Blues.
“I thought the game was a game that was chess-match played game really,” he said.
“Both teams were being patient, playing kind of the same way, knowing that one goal or two goals could win it. I thought we played a pretty good game other than the fact that we didn’t finish the game the right way. They scored a seeing-eye power-play goal, what can you do?”
Little evened things up just three minutes into the third period as he won a faceoff and then snapped a pass from linemate Andrew Ladd past Brian Elliott on a power-play, thanks to a tripping call against Vladimir Sobotka.
Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was sent off with just over three minutes left in the game for hooking, which gave Shattenkirk his chance to score his third goal of the season.
St. Louis was coming off a 5-2 home-ice loss to Anaheim. The Jets hadn’t played at home since Nov. 23 but were 4-2 on an Eastern road swing, although this was their fourth straight loss at home.
“I thought we did the necessary things to win the game, possibly 2-1, that was the game that was going to get played out and it did get played out,” said Noel.
Notes: Jets’ Mark Stuart left in the third bleeding profusely from the mouth after a goalmouth scramble. … Wheeler had been on a three-game point streak going into the game. … The Jets are still the only team in the Central that has managed to beat the Blues this season, 4-3 in a shootout Oct. 18. … St. Louis went into Tuesday’s came with an impressive 9-0-1 record against division opponents.