Hat-trick clincher: Blues eliminate Jets to advance

OK, you could say it took Jaden Schwartz 87 games to get going — that would be 82 regular-season games and five postseason affairs. Fair enough. But when he got going?

Well, hats off to Schwartz. Lots of them.

“I wasn’t really looking at the hats,” Schwartz said. “I was just trying to catch my breath. And we were trying to get the faceoff there and they kept throwing them. It was slowing the game down a bit.”

Fans will be fans.

As if his game-winner with 15 seconds left in Game 5 Thursday wasn’t enough, Schwartz scored a natural hat trick Saturday — the first three goals of the game, in fact, and what turned out to be all three Blues goals in a 3-2 series-clinching victory over Winnipeg at Enterprise Center.

The Jets and goalie Connor Hellebuyck can’t complain about “pinball bounces” in this one. Well, maybe they can.

“You can’t get any luckier than that,” Hellebuyck said afterwards. “What I saw was a puck that hit the side of the net or the post, one of the two, and somehow it jumped straight up and (hit) crossbar, off my back. If that’s not the fortunate bounce that you consider luck, then I don’t know what is.”

He was describing Schwartz’s first goal, which came just 23 seconds into the game. Schwartz saw it at least a little differently.

“It just went off the post, and I was kind of in the right spot, right time,” Schwartz said. “Bounced on my stick. (The puck) was underneath him a little bit but I had room.”

Schwartz scored a power-play goal with 7:24 left in the second period to make it 2-0 Blues, and got his third early in the third finishing off a rush with Brayden Schenn. Throw in his goal with 15 seconds remaining Thursday to stun Winnipeg 3-2 and Schwartz has scored the last four Blues goals.

“What a boss,” goalie Jordan Binnington said. “He’s playing great, and the (playoff) beard looks pretty good on him too.”

Winnipeg made it just a tad too interesting in third period with a goal by Dustin Byfuglien with 7:34 to play and one by Bryan Little with 37 seconds left.

“It got a little tighter than we wanted, that’s for sure,” interim coach Craig Berube said. “I’ll tell you that. But 50 minutes or more we were pretty dominant.”

All season long, the Blues have made history, reached milestones, done things rarely achieved in team and NHL annals. From their worst-to-(playoff) berth finish, from the accomplishments of Binnington, to that 11-game winning streak.

St. Louis Blues jerseys

But they did not want to be part of the first NHL playoff series in which the road team won the first six games. So with Saturday’s victory, the Blues made no history. They did, however, clinch the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal 4-2, sending the high-flying Jets into the offseason.

The Blues will play Dallas or Nashville cheap nhl jerseys china
in the next round. With a 5-3 victory Saturday over Nashville, Dallas leads that series 3-2. The Blues get home ice advantage if their opponent is Dallas; if it’s Nashville, the Predators get home ice.

The Jets may disagree, but it seemed obvious the third-period comeback by the Blues on Thursday — three unanswered goals in the period including Schwartz’s stunner at the end — took something out of Winnipeg.

There seemed to be a definite carryover effect to that game, in terms of the Blues’ domination.

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