Edmonton Oilers blank Jets 4-0 in preseason opener

The Edmonton Oilers opened their preseason with a 4-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets Sunday at Rogers Place.

“A lot of the things that we worked on in our first three days in practices showed up,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said after game. “There were some scrambly moments, I think you expect that in the first preseason game. But there was a lot of good and a lot of players laid down a really good first preseason game and are starting to stake their claim.”

It only took the Oilers 51 seconds to get on the board. Markus Niemelainen took a pass from Brad Malone in the high slot and fired a wrister past David Rittich.

“First shift and the first shot happened to (go) in,” Niemelainen said. “It was fun, though, I think I scored only one or two goals last year.

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“It’s so rare that I score goals, it’s kind of a surprise.”

Read more: Dylan Holloway pushing hard at Edmonton Oilers training camp

The Jets had a two-man advantage for 50 seconds in the second period, but couldn’t solve the Oilers penalty kill.

“We wanted to play with a lot of energy, and I thought that showed up,” Woodcroft said. “I thought our pace was good.”

With 5:33 left in the second, Calvin Pickard replaced Stuart Skinner in the Oilers goal. Skinner stopped all 19 shots he faced.

“The first five or 10 minutes you’re just getting your legs back into it. It’s a little tiring for the first little bit,” Skinner said. “There were some nerves because it’s the first game and you got to see the fans back again, which was a lot of fun, but after a little bit I started feeling calmer — especially after the first save.”

“After every game you don’t want to get to high on yourself and get too low, especially the first game in preseason,” Skinner said. “I thought it went well and I still have a lot of work to do — and I felt that throughout the game on some plays — so just keep on working on the game.”

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Halfway through the second, Rittich stopped Jason Demers’ shot from the right side. The rebound went to James Hamblin, who capitalized to make it 2-0.

A few minutes later, Ryan McLeod beat Rittich to the puck and chopped it home.

Only 27 seconds later, Dylan Holloway put it away by deflecting Evan Bouchard’s point shot.

“It felt good tonight,” Holloway said. “Legs felt really good. I think a big part of it was just getting some games in in Penticton. Kind of get into game shape a little bit early.”

“I thought he was physical, I thought he showed up in offensive chances,” Woodcroft said of Holloway. “He’s a big reason the penalty kill had the success that it did and I thought it was a really good first game for him.”

Read more: Edmonton Oilers’ Stuart Skinner ready for full NHL season

Pickard stopped all 10 shots he faced.

The Oilers will visit the Seattle Kraken on Monday, with the Face-off Show on 630 CHED at 6 p.m. The game will start at 8 p.m.

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