ST. LOUIS – To stay a step ahead of goaltenders, T.J. Oshie mixes up his shots in shootouts.
It worked Saturday, with Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko scoring in the tiebreaker to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
“I try to switch it up,” Oshie said. “I know they watch video just like we do so I try to be unpredictable out there. I’ve scored a couple on backhands, three or four in the 5-hole and a couple using the forehand.”
Alexander Steen missed on the first attempt. Then came Oshie.
The crowd chanted “USA! USA! as Oshie skated in on Al Montoya and beat him. Tarasenko then scored, giving the Blues the victory in their final game before the Olympic break. Tarasenko is 3 for 5 in shootouts.
Whichever way he goes, Oshie is getting the job done. He is 7 for 10 in shootouts.
“It’s just a fun part of the game where you’ve been doing it at the end of practices with goalies since you were a kid,” Oshie said. “It’s something I’ve had fun doing.”
Blues goalie Brian Elliott stopped Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd in the tiebreaker. They were a combined 9 for 14 before misfiring against Elliot.
Coach Ken Hitchcock said there is a “calmness” on the bench when it comes to time for a shootout.
“That’s what is intriguing for me,” Hitchcock said. “First of all, we can go deep cause we have people who are good at it that are down the ladder. But we’ve also got those three guys who are pretty golden for us to be honest. We know we’re going to get a goal from one of the three for sure.”
Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy and Jaden Schwartz scored in regulation for the Blues, 15-0-1 against Central Division rivals. They are 22-5-3 at home and 39-12-6 overall.
Mark Scheifele scored twice, and Dustin Byfuglien added a goal for Winnipeg.
“We know we played a good game and for it to come down to a shootout is a tough way to end it,” Scheifele said. “We know we can play with every team in this league and to lose in a shootout to a team like that is obviously good but we know we could have won that game.”
It was the fourth consecutive overtime game for St. Louis.
St. Louis was 0 for 8 on the power play and has failed to score in its last 20 chances.
“I’ve got three weeks to think about it,” Hitchcock said, pointing to the Olympic break. “I have no thoughts. I need a break from it. They need a break from it.”
The Blues improved to 3-1 this season against the Jets, winning the last three with each game was decided by a single goal or in a shootout.
Schwartz scored on a backhander from the slot to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead 34 seconds into the third period. Schwartz has three goals and three assists in a four-game points streak.
Byfuglien tied it on a power play with 6:17 left.
St. Louis scored first. Morrow took a drop pass from Tarasenko and snapped a wrist shot from the left circle at 7:39 of the first period.
Winnipeg tied it on Scheifele’s goal at 12:33. From behind the net, Devin Setoguchi found Scheifele in front of the crease and Scheifele slid it by Elliott.
St. Louis regained the lead when Roy scored on off an assist from Morrow with 2:22 left in the period. It was Roy’s first goal in 25 games since Dec.12 against Toronto.
Scheifele tied it at 2 midway through the second.
“We played a hell of a game, down three times and battled back,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “Big power play goal, fantastic penalty kill. We played a real solid game. I liked the looks we were getting for the most part on power-play, getting faster.
“I don’t put any stock into a shootout deciding how we play. We played a great game. We worked hard enough and played well enough that we just as easily could have won that game.”
NOTES: Blues D Jordan Leopold left in the first period and did not return. … St. Louis D Barret Jackman played in his 700th game. Only Bernie Federko (927), Brian Sutter (779) and Brett Hull (744) have played more games for the Blues than the former No. 1 draft choice. … The 10 Blues player selected to play in the Winter Olympics were honoured in ceremony before the game. Nine Blues are headed to the games. F Vladimir Sobotka will miss playing because of a leg injury. … The Jets are sending four players to the Olympics … With the win, Hitchcock went past Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman on the Blues’ career victories list. Bowman was 110-83-45 with the Blues from 1967 to 1970. The Blues are 111-44-15 under Hitchcock.