The Edmonton Oilers rolled into the end of Winnipeg’s homestand. The Hitchcock-led Western Canadian franchise looked to continue a stretch of better games, after a season which has seen no end to media and fan scrutiny. Coming up the red-hot Jets, however, was no small task. Did Winnipeg welcome Edmonton with its famous Manitoban hospitality, or did the Jets drown in stinky oil?
The First Period
The Jets and Oilers began proceedings normally enough, exchanging some customary icings and a few shot attempts. Winnipeg held the earlier edge, getting some very prime looks directly in front of Oilers netminder Cam Talbot. While Cam has had a tougher season, the early proceedings were a bit better on his end. He must have felt elated when Jack Roslovic turned over the puck for a Ryan Spooner goal. It was a poor goal to concede, and further evidence that the fourth line really needs a few changes.
The sadness was not to last, however, as the Oilers took a rather silly penalty. Winnipeg being Winnipeg, the power play did not take long to connect, with Mathieu Perreault dodging and weaving between the PKers for a beautiful marker. A little over a minute later, Nikolaj Ehlers fired a puck off an Edmonton skate that deflected at an extremely sharp angle. Talbot had come out to challenge a bit, but ended up needing to pick the puck out of the net instead. Winnipeg closed the period out up 2-1. Solid, Jets, solid.
The Second Period
Winnipeg is a puzzling team. They entered the second period, looking to pick up where they left off with an early Patrik Laine goal. The puck snuck through Talbot, which is understandable because it’s Patrik Laine. The puzzling part came into play with everything after the Laine goal. The Jets were careless and sloppy, neither of which you can afford to be against a team with Connor McDavid.
The bill came due on a 3-on-2 sequence, with McDavid spearheading the charge. After a bit of a chaotic sequence, the puck deflected off of Connor Hellebuyck and, from Jake Trouba’s stick, off the edge of Darnell Nurse’s skate and into the net. The bad news didn’t get much better, with Winnipeg failing to capitalize on an additional power play opportunity. Late in the period, another chaotic sequence led to a Jujhar Khaira goal, only his second of the season. Winnipeg then took a mediocre tripping penalty, and the Oilers only needed 7 seconds to convert the chance to a goal. Just like that, the Oilers were through 40 minutes of play with a 4-3 lead.
The Third Period and Overtime
After a disappointing middle period, the Jets came out of the locker-room in an absolute fury. Edmonton felt the full brunt of a Winnipeg full-court press and could scarcely exit its own end uncontested. The Jets buzzed like a hive of angry yellow jackets, and you felt that there had to be a breakthrough somewhere. For the first 9 minutes, that breakthrough did not arrive.
Right at the turn of the 10th minute, Mark Scheifele did what Mark Scheifele has become accustomed to doing; saving all of Winnipeg. Some excellent offensive zone possession allowed Blake Wheeler to hold the puck behind Talbot’s net. Scheifele slipped behind the Oilers D and one-timed Wheeler’s feed for his 18th goal of the season. The Jets kept applying pressure, but did not find the go-ahead goal before the end of regulation.
Overtime started off with a bang, with the Oilers grabbing the early possession and offensive opportunities. McDavid danced between Winnipeg’s skaters and, from a mile out, ripped a wicked shot off the corner of the crossbar. Good lord can that man play. A minute later, Winnipeg recovered the puck and led an odd-man rush the other way, with Wheeler and Scheifele setting up Josh Morrissey for an absolute ripper of a game-winning goal. Winnipeg took both points from an ugly, but necessary, victory. Tomorrow, the Blackhawks await for a rubber match.
- Morrissey in overtime was very, very nice. He’s continuing to add offensive value to his game.
- Scheifele is a superstar, and up to 40 points in 31 games. One of Winnipeg’s best players in every facet of the game.
- Trouba had a rough outing, and had more than a few battles in the corners get away from him. So it goes.
- The puck bounces were brutal for Hellebuyck, especially after the first goal wasn’t the finest opportunity he’s conceded.