A change of scenery may be a good thing as the Winnipeg Jets closed out a five-game homestand without even a single victory after a 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday at Bell MTS Place.
The Jets’ losing streak also now sits at five games, with their last win coming in Toronto on April 15. But after a dreadful performance in a five-goal loss to the Oilers just 48 hours earlier, it was at least a step in the right direction for the Jets.
“What we wanted to do, we accomplished a great big chunk of that,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “We did what we set out to do here tonight, and we got to build on that. If you can’t get the win in the game, you’ve got to leave the rink feeling like you’re moving in the right direction. I think we did that here today.”
Blake Wheeler scored the Jets’ lone marker but a pair of power-play goals were the difference as the Oilers’ dominance over Winnipeg continued in the finale of the season series between the two sides. Edmonton won seven of nine meetings against the Jets in 2021.
“It was way better than the last game for sure,” Wheeler said. “We beat them one-nothing 5-on-5 and they scored two powerplay goals obviously. That was the difference in the game.”
Tyson Barrie, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Leon Draisaitl scored goals for Edmonton in the victory.
The Jets offence has suddenly dried up with just three goals over the span of their last three games.
“You’re going to go through slides,” Jets forward Mark Scheifele said. “We’ve been pretty consistent all year – not losing two in a row. When you go on a slide like this, it definitely sucks. You never want to do this, but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
“Sometimes you get the bounces, sometimes you don’t. So, it’s just a matter of working at it. Coming to the rink and being sharp and focusing on working on your game. When you work hard, good things will happen.”
While the Jets may have prevented Connor McDavid from finding the net after scoring a hat trick on Monday, McDavid still had three assists in the win. He recorded multi-point efforts in all nine games against the Jets this season to finish with 22 points in the season series.
The win extended the Oilers’ (29-16-2) lead over Winnipeg (27-19-3) for second in the North Division to three points, Edmonton also has two games in hand.
The Jets had a strong push in the third period while trailing by a single goal. They outshot the Oilers 15-7 in the final frame, but Draisaitl scored the period’s only goal into the empty net.
“I thought we were hard tonight,” Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck said after making 24 saves. “We were doing all those details hard and it was good. It’s a step in the right direction, but we can’t settle for losing. We’re gonna snap out of this, and it’s gonna be big, and we’re gonna carry that momentum. It’s just a matter of time.”
Wheeler’s name was all over the scoresheet. The captain opened the Jets scoring in the second period but both of the Oilers’ first two goals came on the power-play while Wheeler was serving penalties.
After a quiet start to the opening period, a Wheeler tripping penalty midway through the frame gave Edmonton their first power-play on the night, and the Oilers took advantage. A quick feed from McDavid found Barrie in the middle of the ice, and he pounded a slap shot through a screen and over the shoulder of Hellebuyck’s blocker side.
Wheeler would get the Jets on the board early in the second period. A beautiful backhanded pass from the corner by Andrew Copp found Wheeler on the other side of the ice and he placed the puck along the ice beyond the reach of Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen to even the score at a goal apiece.
But, with Wheeler in the box on a high sticking double-minor, Edmonton found the game-winning goal later in the period. A wrist shot from the top of the circle by Nugent-Hopkins beat a once again screened Hellebuyck on the glove side to regain the lead for the Oilers.
Draisaitl iced it with an empty-netter with nine seconds left on the clock to extend his point streak to three games.
McDavid moved his league-leading point total to 82 through 47 games.
Hellebuyck started all five games on the homestand.
Koskinen made 29 saves on 30 shots for the Oilers in the win, his first start since April 7.
The loss moves the Jets’ record to 11-11-2 on home ice this season.
Winnipeg will try to put that homestand behind them as they kick off a three-game road trip in Montreal on Friday. You can listen to the game live on 680 CJOB with Kelly Moore, Paul Edmonds and Jamie Thomas with the pregame show starting at 4 PM and puck drop just after 6 o’clock.
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