Happy New Years! I hope you’ve had some to rest and relax, especially after the hustle of the winter holidays. The Winnipeg Jets have probably been thankful for some additional nights off, given the sheer volume of injuries and illnesses the team continues to battle. It’s been a brutal stretch of the season, but the Jets have held firm. On New Year’s Ever, the Edmonton Oilers came very close to derailing that steadfast nature. Through the McDavid storm, Connor Hellebuyck stood tall to hand the Jets a massive 2 points on the road.
Winnipeg knew it was in trouble as soon as the game kicked off. The Oilers were faster, more aggressive, and pressured effectively in all zones. The Jets struggled to exit the defensive zone on almost every single shift. Even when McDavid wasn’t on the ice, Winnipeg still looked like it was playing in quicksand.
Hockey has a funny way of bailing bad performers out, though. In this instance, a strange delay of game call that should have been revoked gave the Jets a late first-period power play. A gorgeous Kyle Connor pass set up Neal Pionk for a scoring opportunity, and Neal rewarded his linemate with a squeaker through Campbell’s pads. The goal came against the run of play, but the Jets will take whatever they can get.
Edmonton continued to push the pace in the second frame, but couldn’t figure out how to get past the mass of Winnipeg bodies and Hellebuyck. The Jets threw themselves in the path of as many shots as they could physically stomach. I’m sure much of the team will have a collection of new bruises tomorrow morning. What a way to welcome in the new year.
At some point, you’d figure the dam would have to break. The Oilers were pouring it on, and the Jets repeatedly flirted with danger on multiple penalty kills. Recent arrival Klim Kostin finally broke the ice for Edmonton, snatching a goal off of a faceoff to tie the game. It was hard to be upset at the conceded marker. Winnipeg had probably deserved to be down 4-1 at this point. Hockey, though, truly is a cruel sport. Pionk let loose a shot from the point that Kyle deftly tipped past Campbell, and Winnipeg’s lead was restored. Despite an absolutely chaotic final 2-3 minutes of action, Hellebuyck shut the door to keep Winnipeg’s victory intact. These are things you just love to see.