If actions speak louder than words, then the Winnipeg Jets coaches surely heard loud and clear what Jansen Harkins and Evgeny Svechnikov were trying to tell them Wednesday night.
The two forwards fighting for opening night roster spots each tallied three points in Winnipeg’s 5-1 victory over an Edmonton Oilers squad missing most of its key players.
“Obviously we got a lot of young guys fighting for spots,” said Harkins. “There’s a couple spots right now everyone is really, really chasing for. The competition is pretty good.”
Harkins scored twice and added an assist, Svechnikov had a goal and two assists, while their linemate Cole Perfetti also had an assist in the win.
“Right now Jansen is going to get on the ice thinking about the next good thing that could happen,” said head coach Paul Maurice. “Not, I hope I don’t make another mistake. And that’s a completely different perspective and mind shift. You see a different player when they’re confident. Hopefully he can keep building on this.
“We’re not asking Jansen to score 30 this year to make the team. That can’t be the qualifier for him making the team. There’s lot of other parts of his game that he has to do consistently, and I think scoring makes your whole game better.”
The young trio has just 96 games of NHL experience combined, but they accounted for a total of seven points in the win.
“I think we just feel each other,” Svechnikov said. “We have a little bit different things that we’re good at, so I think we kinda have that chemistry going a little bit, which is fun to be a part of.”
“Exhibition means a lot to them, right,” said Maurice. “Those are big games for those three guys. They got something to show, something to prove.”
It was Harkins who opened the scoring just 91 seconds into the game, banging in a loose puck past Oilers goalie Ilya Konovalov to kick off a period where the home side outshot the visitors 15-4.
Svechnikov would get on the board early in the second with a nifty deflection of a Logan Stanley point shot and just a few minutes later, a nice net drive by Mikey Eyssimont was denied but the rebound bounced off Austin Poganski and in to make it 3-0.
Harkins would make it 4-0 when he found himself alone against new Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner, going top shelf for his second of the game.
Edmonton’s Brad Malone would break Connor Hellebuyck’s goose egg late in the period.
Midway through the third, the Jets top line finally got in on the fun when Kyle Connor made it 5-1.
Hellebuyck played the entire game in goal for the Jets, making 17 saves for the win.
The announced attendance was 15,078 at the Canada Life Centre.
“We’re not getting too excited about what got done here,” said Maurice. “We’re looking at the good pieces of our 5-on-5 game that we liked.
“Bigger tests come on the weekend. We’re gonna play reasonably young lineups again in both these regardless of the final score to give all of them one more chance.”
"We've got a lot of young guys fighting for spots, a lot of good players."
Jansen Harkins and Evgeny Svechnikov speak with the media after combining for a total of six points in tonight's win over the Edmonton Oilers.
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— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) September 30, 2021
The two teams will look much different when they meet again Saturday night in Edmonton with the Jets expected to ice a lineup with fewer veterans and more players that will likely start the season with the Manitoba Moose.
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