WINNIPEG – This has been a year filled with frustration for Jaden Schwartz, but he finally had a chance to celebrate on Thursday night.
And it could not have come at a better time for the Blues.
Schwartz knocked a pass from Tyler Bozak out of mid-air into the net with just 15 seconds left in regulation, giving the Blues a 3-2 victory over the Jets.
The win also gave the Blues into a 3-2 lead in the first-round series. They will now have a chance to clinch the series on Saturday night at home.
“Big win tonight,” Schwartz said. “Now we’ve got to worry about closing it out.”
The road team has won all five games in the series, but the Blues chances of extending that streak did not look very promising for the first two periods in this game.
The Jets scored just 12 seconds into the game, the fastest goal ever allowed by the Blues in a playoff game, and later in the first period increased the lead to 2-0.
Neither team scored in the second period, although the Blues gained some momentum by killing off a double minor penalty to Robert Thomas for high sticking.
A penalty to the Jets’ Jacob Trouba with 21 seconds left in the period put the Blues on the power play, carrying over to the start of the third period.
Ryan O’Reilly made the Jets pay with the Blues’ first goal 1:29 into the period, beginning their comeback.
They got the tying goal with just 6:08 to play from Brayden Schenn. The play was reviewed because the net came loose just as Schenn shot the puck, but the ruling was that a Jets’ player had knocked Oskar Sundqvist into the net and the goal was allowed to stand.
It appeared the two teams were heading to overtime for the second consecutive game before the winning goal from Schwartz, his first of the playoffs. According to the NHL, it was the second-latest game-winning goal in regulation in the Blues’ playoff history. The only later goal came from Gino Cavallini with nine seconds left in game three of the 1990 Division Finals against Chicago.
The goal came after a regular season in which Schwartz was limited to just 11 goals.
Jordan Binnington stopped 29 of 31 shots by the Jets.
Game six will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday night at Enterprise Center.
Photo courtesy of St. Louis Blues