After the Winnipeg Jets were fairly quiet on trade deadline day, their general manager reiterated his faith in the team.
Perhaps Friday night’s result has shaken that faith.
The Jets looked outpaced, out-skilled and flat-out overmatched in a 6-3 loss in Edmonton, a final score that flattered the visitors who have now gone 1-6-1 in their last eight games.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, and Kailer Yamamoto all had two-goal nights in the win for Edmonton.
The Jets gave the league’s top ranked power play nine opportunities on the man advantage, and the Oilers capitalized on two of them.
“Never coached a team, I don’t think that was so undisciplined, and took so many penalties,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “So, you play a third of the game shorthanded against that team, they’re going to make you look bad, and they made us look bad tonight.”
The Jets only allowed a single goal in the first, but a dreadful middle stanza saw the Oilers add three more before coasting to the win.
“We made it very easy for them to play their game,” said Bowness. “We have to take a lot more pride in our ability to defend, which we were doing for most of the season, which is now not nearly where it needs to be.”
If there was a bright spot for the Jets, it was stopping Connor McDavid’s goal scoring streak at five games, but he still recorded three assists.
The Jets trailed by five in the final frame, but scored three late goals with the game already out of reach to make the score look a little more respectable.
They’ll look to build off that in the rematch on Saturday back in Winnipeg.
“That’s what we said before the third,” said Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. “Just go out there and try our best and try to bring that for tomorrow. I thought the third period was a little better, but overall it’s not a good game.”
Pierre-Luc Dubois missed a second straight game with a lower-body injury, but David Gustafsson returned to the lineup after missing the past 20 games.
The Jets deadline acquisition, centreman Vladislav Namestnikov, was scheduled to fly into Winnipeg late on Friday, but Bowness wasn’t sure if he’ll be available for the rematch.
“We’ll see,” he said. “He hasn’t skated in a couple days. He’s flying in tonight. I’ll talk to him in the morning, see how he’s doing.”
READ MORE: ‘This isn’t fantasy hockey’: Jets’ Cheveldayoff completes 1 trade on deadline day
Things went poorly from the get-go as the Kyle Connor took a tripping penalty just 79 seconds into the contest, giving the supercharged Oilers power play an early opportunity and they made no mistake.
Moments after Morgan Barron failed to clear the puck, Nugent-Hopkins found Draisaitl for his 37th of the season to open the scoring.
The Jets played with fire through the rest of the period, giving Edmonton three more opportunities with the man advantage, but the Jets killed off all six minutes to keep the deficit at one after one.
But after escaping the opening 20 minutes, the dam burst in the second.
A Dylan DeMelo clearing attempt landed right on the stick of Nugent-Hopkins, who buried the turnover past Connor Hellebuyck to make it 2-0 just 1:44 into the period.
Winnipeg then got their first power play chance of the game but could not convert, and then, a pivotal sequence may have eliminated all hope for the Jets.
Nikolaj Ehlers was sprung on a 2-on-1 and tried to feed a pass to Nino Niederreiter but it was broken up, and the puck was fired down the ice to a wide-open Yamamoto on a breakaway.
He deked out Hellebuyck to make it 3-0, but the bleeding wasn’t over yet.
Just 40 seconds later, Yamamoto scored again after the Jets made a mess of things in their own end to make it 4-0 after two.
With another meeting coming between the two Saturday night, Hellebuyck was pulled for the third period, not that David Rittich could cure what ailed the Jets.
Another Oilers power play led to another goal from Nugent-Hopkins as he reached 30 goals for the first time in his career.
Winnipeg finally got on the board when Jonsson-Fjallby buried his 5th of the season.
But just over a minute later on a delayed penalty, Draisaitl scored again to make it 6-1.
Mark Scheifele notched his 35th of the season with just over eight minutes to go and Brenden Dillion scored his second of the campaign less than a minute later to make it 6-3, but that’s as close as the Jets would get.
Niederreiter picked up an assist on Scheifele’s goal to earn his first point as a Jet.
The big guns for the Oilers did big damage as Nugent-Hopkins had four points, Draisaitl had three, but Connor McDavid’s streak of multi-goal games ended at five.
Stuart Skinner picked up the win, making 25 saves while Hellebuyck stopped 20 shots before he was yanked.
READ MORE: Winnipeg Jets acquire centre Vlad Namestnikov from San Jose
Winnipeg will try to right the ship Saturday night when they host the Oilers at 6 p.m. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 4 p.m.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.