What a way to cap off a homestand.
Five different players scored and Connor Hellebuyck was outstanding as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 Thursday night in their first meeting since the Jets swept the Oilers out of the playoffs in May.
The Jets struck for three goals in the second period and for all but two minutes kept the Oilers dynamic duo in check to win a third straight game to take over the lead in the Central Division.
“Anytime a team comes in that’s winning a lot of games – it’s on,” said Hellebuyck. “It’s not going to be a fun night. It’s gonna be a grinder and I think we all bought into that tonight.
“We really controlled all three ends and we didn’t search for more. I think the third, we let off the gas just a little bit or they pushed hard cause they’re a good team, one of the two. But, I thought, as a team, and as a whole, we got back into our details, and we didn’t let them have anything they shouldn’t get.”
The Jets took a four-goal lead into the third period. Leon Draisaitl scored two power play goals only 76 seconds apart, but the Jets were able to stem the tide, and Kyle Connor scored into an empty net to seal the victory.
“They have a good power play,” said Pierre-Luc Dubois. “It’s easy to fall in the trap of just wanting to defend. Two quick goals like that, it’s now a two-goal game instead of a four-goal game. But we kept going with it and had a good couple shifts after that. And then we stabilized everything.”
The Jets new look top line of Pierre-Luc Dubois, Kyle Connor, and Blake Wheeler had the assignment of going up against Connor McDavid. While McDavid still recorded two assists to extend his point streak to 15 games with at least a point in every game this season, they still won the matchup in part one of the back-to-back with the Oilers.
“I want to become the guy that can do everything out there,” said Dubois. “And tonight you needed some good defence, some physical play, some good sticks, some one-on-one, some offence. We needed a lot out there tonight, and we did a good job of that.”
“I’ve liked Pierre-Luc’s game all year,” said head coach Paul Maurice. “I thought it was a continuation. I liked the line. You don’t play Connor McDavid one-on-one. I thought our backend was very good tonight, both sets that played against them certainly.”
The Oilers second goal was originally disallowed for goalie interference, but was allowed to count after a successful coaches challenge by Oilers head coach Dave Tippett.
“His (referee) initial read was right,” Hellebucyk said. “He definitely got pushed a little bit, but he sold it and then he stayed. That’s my problem is he didn’t try to get out.
“For that reason I think it should be overturned. I think he had it right.”
Adam Lowry got the Jets on the board just over two minutes in when his long range attempt squeaked through Mikko Koskinen, a shot he absolutely should have stopped.
The Jets carried the momentum from that through the bulk of the opening frame, dominating possession but were unable to build on their lead.
That would change in the second when Nikolaj Ehlers cruised down the wing and blasted a slapshot over the shoulder of Koskinen to make it 2-0.
Just three minutes later with Winnipeg on a power play, Josh Morrissey slid a beautiful pass to Dubois in front of the crease, who tipped it in for his ninth goal of the season.
The Jets weren’t done there. With just 38 seconds remaining in the period, Logan Stanley’s point shot was redirected by Mark Scheifele to give Winnipeg a seemingly insurmountable lead heading to the final 20 and chasing Koskinen from the game in favour of Stuart Skinner.
But it didn’t take long for the visitors to put a dent in that advantage. Andrew Copp took a tripping penalty 1:19 into the period, then Stanley took a penalty for boarding Draisaitl, giving the incredibly potent Oilers power play a five-on-three.
Just six seconds after the Stanley penalty, Draisaitl scored his 16th of the season, and 1:16 later he scored his 17th. The second goal was initially waved off due to goalie interference, but Tippett challenged the play, and upon video review the officials ruled that Jesse Puljujarvi was pushed into Hellebuyck by a Jet, allowing the goal to count.
That’s as close as the Oilers would get. Hellebuyck held down the fort in a third period in which Edmonton outshot the home side 14-9 and Connor iced things with a late empty-netter, his 12th goal of the season. Hellebuyck would make a total of 32 saves in the win.
Paul Stastny missed a fourth straight game with a suspected foot injury after getting hit by a shot back on November 6.
The Jets finish with a 5-1-1 record on the seven-game homestand and leapfrog Minnesota for first place in the Central Division thanks to the win. They’ll meet the Oilers again in Edmonton on Thursday night.