ST. LOUIS - Jaden Schwartz knew there would be a silver lining during his struggles in the regular season.
The St. Louis forward found it the last two games of the first round of the playoffs.
Schwartz scored three times and Jordan Binnington stopped 18 shots to help the Blues beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in Game 6 of their series Saturday night to advance to the second round.
Schwartz scored just 11 times during the regular season and went through a frustrating 22-game scoreless drought from Dec. 20 to Feb. 12.
“Sometimes when pucks aren’t going in, the net doesn’t seem as big,” Schwartz said. “When you get a bounce, or a break, it seems like you can carry that over. Everyone will tell you that confidence in this, and any sport, is big.”
Schwartz has four goals in the playoffs, the Blues’ last four, starting with his tiebreaking tally with 15 seconds left in the 3-2 win in Game 5. That goal helped set the stage for Saturday’s effort.
“We did a good job of carrying that over,” Schwartz said. “We were aggressive today and we kind of played without fear.”
The Blues became the first home team to win in the series, and advanced to the second round for the third time in four years. St. Louis will next face the winner of the Dallas-Nashville series.
Binnington began the season as a backup for the Blues’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio. He stopped 33 successive shots after giving up two first-period goals in Game 5.
The 29-year-old rookie goalie appreciated Schwartz’s ability to stay the course.
“What a boss,” Binnington said. “He’s playing great. And his beard looks pretty good on him too.”
Capitals 6, Hurricanes 0
In Washington, Nicklas Backstrom had two goals and two assists, Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists and Braden Holtby stopped all 30 shots he faced to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead in their playoff series.
After scoring five goals in 20 games during the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run a year ago that included missing four games with two fractures in his right pointer finger, Backstrom has that many already in these playoffs.
Stars 5, Predators 3
In Nashville, Alexander Radulov and Jason Dickinson each scored twice to help Dallas to push the Predators to the brink of elimination.
The Stars came into the postseason as the West’s first wild card and are up 3-2 against the defending Central Division champs.
Dallas will have a chance to advance Monday night at home in Game 6.