By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Jets came through for their sick head coach.
Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey set up two goals as Winnipeg defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-0 before 13,936 fans at Canada Life Centre with head coach Rick Bowness nursing an illness at home on Monday.
Morrissey assisted on goals by forwards Sam Gagner and Mark Scheifele. Forwards Morgan Barron and Cole Perfetti, into an empty net, also scored.
“I’m sure (Bowness) was happy watching that one,” Scheifele said. “Hopefully, that picks his spirits up. You just hope and pray for him to feel better and better. That’s really all we can do. Obviously, our trainers and doctors are on it to make sure he comes out of this thing healthy and stronger. All we can do is pray for him.”
But the Jets played the way Bowness had wanted them to play.
“Tonight was good for our team to play the way we did against a very, very good hockey team,” Scheifele said. “Just getting used to it and getting used to each other and used to guys’ routes. That was a pretty solid win.”
It was the Blues’ first loss of the season and they were shut out for the first time in 109 games.
Netminder Thomas Greiss stopped 41 of 44 shots for St. Louis (3-1-0).
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves for his first shutout of the NHL season as Winnipeg improved to 3-3-0.
“He’s (Hellebuyck) the heart and soul here,” Scheifele said. “He’s a guy that stands on his head all night. He made all the saves he needed to. He was fantastic again tonight.”
Hellebuyck was pleased with the effort.
“It felt great,” he said. “Felt like it was a step in the right direction. We know we have it in this room and we needed to show it for 60 minutes. Now that we have, now we have something to build on.”
Associate head coach Scott Arniel, who replaced Bowness behind the bench, said the head coach was pleased with the effort.
“He said right away how hard we worked,” Arniel said. “We knew we were going against a team in St. Louis that made you work for every inch of the ice. We did a great job of battling, getting from zone to zone, getting to their end of the rink. … I think everybody was rock solid — Helle (Hellebuyck) as well.”
The Jets took a 1-0 lead in the second, then broke the game open by scoring three unanswered markers in the third.
Scheifele had opened the scoring midway through the second. Gagner increased it to 2-0 midway through the third and Barron got the insurance marker a few minutes later. Perfetti iced the game with his empty-netter.
The Blues thought Greiss deserved a better fate.
“Greiss was great for us tonight,” said forward Brayden Schenn. “He made a lot of great saves for us and we’ve got to be better in front of him.
“You’re always in it but they just kind of hemmed us in there. I don’t think we deserved to win it by any means.”
Jets head coach Rick (Bones) Bowness was not behind the bench for the game. Bowness, who just recently returned from a bout with COVID-19, had cut a media availability short after the morning practice due to dizzy spells and was advised to rest. Judging by the video of his address, the 67-year-old Bowness was in obvious distress. Bowness has only been behind the bench for one of six regular-season games since he was hired. That game was a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
ON A ROLL
Jets forward Cole Perfetti extended his point-scoring streak to four games. … The Jets were again without sniper Nikolaj Ehlers, who had been placed on injured reserve but may be back during the team’s road trip later this week. Forward Dominic Toninato was called up from the Manitoba Moose farm team but did not dress for Monday’s match. … The Blues played without injured forwards Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich.
Blues: Return home to host the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
Jets: Embark on a three-game road trip that starts in L.A. against the Kings on Thursday.