Jets staring down the barrel of elimination

Vince Dunn of the St. Louis Blues battles Nikolaj Ehlers of the Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place on Thursday. Jason Halstead / Getty Images North America

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ST. LOUIS – Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice wouldn’t provide a crumb about his lineup for the assembled media here this morning.

That leaves only guesswork about whether or not winger Nik Ehlers has recovered from a blocked shot that forced him to the trainer’s room late in Game 5 in Winnipeg, Thursday.

Game 6 of this first-round Stanley Cup playoff series goes tonight at 6 p.m., the Jets down 3-2 in games and facing elimination.

On Friday Maurice described Ehlers’ status as “probable.”

As expected, he did not take part in the morning skate, along with forward Patrik Laine and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, although there’s no reason to believe those two won’t play.

The series is one game from making NHL history, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs have never seen road teams win the first six games of a best-of-seven.

The first five have all gone to the visitors, including Thursday’s 3-2 Blues win.

“We’ll try and win one game,” Jets defenceman Tyler Myers said. “If it happens to make some history, that’s fine.”

The Jets have never come from behind to win a series, so this is new territory in that sense.

They did win a seventh game in Nashville last season, so they at least have overcome the win-or-go-home scenario, which is different than anything else.

“The weight of it, sure,” Maurice said. “The result can be final. There’s pressure on St. Louis as well, they don’t want to go back to Winnipeg. But it’s clean. In an elimination game there’s no tomorrow. In some ways it’s a little bit freeing. You can harness it right, you can get out and play with a little bit extra.”

The blown third-period lead that saw the Blues score the winner with 15 seconds left in Thursday’s game should be ancient history by game time, the coach and players were saying.

“Essentially for us it’s a Game 7,” defenceman Josh Morrissey said. “If you lose you go home. If you win, you get to play a Game 7. We have that experience… where your back’s against the wall and you have to find your best game and we did in that Game 7 in Nashville.

“Everyone’s got different experiences but, for me, that would be the most positive one that I can look back on, on the big stage, trying to win a winner-take-all game.”

Mathieu Perreault says the desperation of the moment trumps everything else.

“It’s a do or die situation, so you shouldn’t need anything else to get you going,” Perreault said. “Even experience, I don’t think it matters now. It’s one game where you’ve got to come out and play your best game of the year. Individually, we should all bring our best game. This is the only way we’ve got a chance.”

Here are tonight’s projected lineups:

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards

Kyle Connor-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler

Nikolaj Ehlers/Par Lindholm-Bryan Little-Patrik Laine

Andrew Copp-Adam Lowry-Brandon Tanev

Mathieu Perreault-Kevin Hayes-Jack Roslovic

Defence

Josh Morrissey-Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot-Dustin Byfuglien

Dmitry Kulikov-Tyler Myers

Goalies
Connor Hellebuyck

Laurent Brossoit

St. Louis Blues

Forwards

David Perron-Ryan O’Reilly-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Oskar Sundqvist

Pat Maroon-Tyler Bozak-Robert Thomas

Robby Fabbri-Ivan Barbashev-Alex Steen

Defence

Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Joel Edmundson

Goalies

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

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