By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Jaden Schwartz scored with 15 seconds remaining in the third period, lifting the Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and handing St. Louis a 3-2 series lead in their Western Conference quarterfinal.
Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn also scored for the Blues, who host Game 6 of the best-of-seven series on Saturday. Jordan Binnington stopped 29 shots for St. Louis.
Winnipeg was up 2-0 after the first period on goals by Adam Lowry and Kevin Hayes.
Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves for Winnipeg, which lost the first two games in the series and extended their home losing streak to six games, including the regular season.
According to a league stat, when a best-of-seven NHL playoff series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 takes the series 78.8 per cent all time (205-55).
Schenn tied the game 2-2 with 6:09 remaining in the third period following a review. Oskar Sundqvist passed the puck over to Schenn and then slid into the net and knocked it off, but it was ruled Schenn had shot the puck into the net before a defensive player caused it to come off.
Tyler Bozak sent a pass over to Schwartz, who redirected it past Hellebuyck for the game-winner.
“(Bozak) came on, he was fresh, and probably knew there wasn’t much time left so he just threw (the puck) on net and I kind of got lucky, it just hit my stick,” Schwartz said.
Hellebuyck agreed that Schwartz got lucky on the play.
“Lucky pinballs,” he said. “The puck just bounced and ended up right on their tape. Tough to eat that one, but I thought we were the better team. If we keep fighting here, it’s not over.”
Winnipeg mounted a 2-0 lead after the first period, even though the Blues had the 15-12 advantage for shots on goal.
“That’s an emotional one, especially the way it starts,” said Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. “You’re down early, but you can probably count the interviews I’ve had with (reporters) that we say we’re a resilient group, we’ve got character in here and tonight’s a prime example of that.”
Lowry got the crowd fired up 12 seconds into the game when he used Brandon Tanev’s rebound to notch his first goal in the series. It set a franchise record for fastest goal in the playoffs. Jacob Trouba had the previous mark of 31 seconds, scored in Game 5 against Minnesota last season.
After fans stopped cheering, some on the rink side of St. Louis’s net started chanting “You look nervous” to Binnington. Before Game 1, a video clip of the rookie saying, “Do I look nervous?” to reporters made the rounds on social media.
Hayes cut to the front of the net at 13:35 and sent the puck under Binnington’s pad to make it 2-0 with his second goal of the playoffs.
Hayes almost scored twice more in the second period.
He took away his own goal when his close shot slid under Binnington and started going toward the goal line. He tried to swipe it across, but his stick pulled the puck out instead.
Hayes also had a breakaway late in the period, but Binnington sprawled on the ice and the shot from the side went into his pads.
Winnipeg got a four-minute power play when Robert Thomas was dinged for high sticking Mark Scheifele in the face shield, but the Jets only had one shot on goal after a number of misses and blocked attempts.
St. Louis went on its first power play with 21 seconds remaining in the frame when Trouba was called for roughing. The period ended with Winnipeg holding the 22-21 edge in shots on goal.
O’Reilly scored with 11 seconds remaining in the power play, off a rebound in a crowd in front of the net at 1:29.
Another Winnipeg power play early in the third delivered one shot on goal.
St. Louis was missing injured third-pairing defenceman Robert Bortuzzo, who was replaced by Carl Gunnarsson.