EDMONTON – Jacob Trouba was able to put a goal and an assist on the board in his NHL debut, but the rookie defenceman was way more concerned about getting into the win column.
Michael Frolik scored a pair of goals as the Winnipeg Jets came from behind to spoil Edmonton’s home opener with a 5-4 victory over the Oilers on Tuesday.
Trouba, a defenceman and Winnipeg’s No. 9 pick in the 2012 Draft scored the game-tying goal 11 minutes into the third period.
“It was a pretty cool experience,” he said. “I just kind of threw it on net and it was a bit of a knuckleball. They don’t draw it up like that, but it was a goal. I was just excited to see it go in.
“I think the most important part is the win. It’s pretty special to me to get the win in my first game. The rest of the stuff comes when it comes. The win is what I am most happy about.”
Tied 4-4 with five minutes to play, Eric Tangradi sent a beautiful backhand pass in front to Frolik, who directed his second of the season into the net before Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk could get back across the crease.
“It was a really up and down game, but we battled hard, especially in the end,” said Frolik, who came to the Jets in an off-season trade from the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. “It was a good finish for us and we can be happy with the way we turned the game around.
“I don’t think that we can afford to give up that many goals. The defence could be a little tighter.”
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Mark Scheifele and Bryan Little also scored, while Ondrej Pavelec made 34 saves in net for the Jets (1-0-0), who were making their first appearance as a Winnipeg team in Edmonton since 1996.
Luke Gazdic, Boyd Gordon, Ales Hemsky and Jesse Joensuu responded for the Oilers (0-1-0), who blew a 4-2 lead. Dubnyk stopped 23 shots.
“I just have to be better, I have to give these guys a better opportunity to win the game,” Dubnyk said. “I didn’t play well enough. Any night that we score four goals, I have to be able to at least get us a point.”
Dallas Eakins, who was coaching his first NHL game as the new head coach of the Oilers, was clearly annoyed that his team gave the game away.
“It’s one thing when a team beats you, you can be OK with that, but not when you hand them the game like that,” he said. “Our group can not hand people goals in games like that, it’s unacceptable.
“It always hurts more when you give the other team something. I don’t like sending them a fruit basket or flowers.”
Edmonton started the scoring just over two minutes into the game as Gazdic took a backhand shot from the faceoff that hit a defender’s stick and eluded Pavelec.
The goal was given to Mike Brown later in the game, but then reversed back to Gazdic, who was playing his first NHL shift, coming to the Oilers off the waiver wire from the Dallas Stars on Sunday as Edmonton looked for an enforcer.
The Jets tied the game just over a minute later on the power play as Schiefele picked the corner with a shot from the top of the circle that Dubnyk waved at.
Winnipeg went up 2-1 with just under four minutes to play in the first period as Little took a long pass from Tobias Enstrom at the blue-line before waiting for defender Nick Schultz to go down to block a shot and calmly beating Dubnyk stick-side. It was Little’s 100th career NHL goal.
Edmonton tied the game two minutes later on the power play as Gordon tipped in a Justin Schultz point shot for his first as an Oiler.
Edmonton went up 3-2 three and a half minutes into the second period as Hemsky worked his way into the Jets zone and beat Pavelec with a quick wrist shot from the face-off dot.
The Oilers took a two-goal lead eight minutes into the second with another power-play goal as Jordan Eberle had a couple of cracks in tight before Joensuu pounced on the rebound and put it into the empty net. Centre Mark Arcobello earned an assist for his first NHL point.
The Jets got back into the game with a touch under four minutes remaining in the second period as Frolik was hit by a puck in front but picked it up and swung a shot through traffic past a screened Dubnyk.
Winnipeg tied the game just past the midmark of the third as Trouba intercepted a long Taylor Hall pass attempt and beat Dubnyk with a knuckler from just across the blue-line. It was Trouba’s first NHL game.
The Jets are off until Friday when they host the L.A. Kings. The Oilers travel to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Saturday.
Notes: Edmonton came into the game with a pretty impressive record of 18-6-3 in season openers at home… The two teams are both hoping to erase long absences from the playoffs. The Oilers have not been in the playoffs since going to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006. The Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise had not see post-season play since 2007… Trouba earned his first point on an assist on a second period goal. A pair of other defencemen who were question marks with training camp injuries, Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian were able to play in the season opener in Edmonton… In addition to head coach Dallas Eakins coaching his first regular season game in the big leagues, the Oilers had three players making their NHL debuts in defenceman Anton Belov and forwards Will Acton and Luke Gazdic. Acton had an assist in his first shift on Gazdic’s goal… Oiler forward Jordan Eberle led the league in pre-season scoring with eight points.