Jets roll over Oilers for first win
EDMONTON, Alberta — The Winnipeg Jets put an end to their losing streak, and extended Edmonton’s, with a gritty and convincing 5-2 victory over the Oilers on Monday at Rogers Place.
The Jets (1-2-0) built 2-0 and 4-2 leads en route to their first win of the season after giving up 13 goals in their first two games of the year.
Nikolaj Ehlers had a hat trick, and Dmitry Kulikov and Mark Scheifele added goals in the win.
“We all knew what we needed to do and are capable of,” Ehlers said. “We didn’t do that the first two games, but we showed it tonight. We played good tonight, simple and fast. We were able to find the holes. We just have to be able to find a way to keep that going.”
Connor Hellebuyck (37 saves) gave the Jets some much needed clutch goaltending.
“A win is a win,” Hellebuyck said. “I am very proud of the guys in front of me. Everyone really dug in and dug deep and pulled out a team win tonight. I think the whole team really beared down in this one, and everybody chipped in.”
For the Oilers (1-2-0), two losses in a row are bad enough, but two losses in a row in which they were outhustled is even tougher to swallow.
“The big concern is where we are with the mental state,” Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said. “We’re not near competitive enough. We’re not outworking teams. It feels like it in moments of the game, but consistently from minutes one to 60 the last two games, we haven’t come close to outworking teams.
“And structurally we’re about as loose as we can be. We’re missing assignments. Our responsibility level (isn’t good). It starts with your star players, your stars have to be superstars every night on both sides of the puck. We didn’t quite get it done with our star players.”
The Jets took an early penalty and found themselves trailing 10-2 in shots at the seven-minute mark. However, they still took a 1-0 lead when Scheifele batted down a pass from Kulikov in the slot and snapped it into the net before Oilers goalie Cam Talbot could get set at 8:56 of the first period.
With the shots 12-4 Edmonton, it was 1-0 Winnipeg.
The Jets went up 2-0 at 16:27 of the first when Kulikov was allowed to walk to the top of the faceoff circle and whip a wrist shot past Talbot, who wasn’t screened on the play.
Hellebuyck stopped all 20 shots he faced in the opening period to give Winnipeg a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
The Oilers (1-2-0) finally broke with two goals 40 seconds apart midway through the second period. Center Leon Draisiatl took a pass from Connor McDavid and put it inside the far post at 12:53. Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins split the defense and scored on a breakaway on the very next shift.
However, the Jets appeared the more desperate of the two teams, and showed it late in the second when they restored their two-goal lead on back-to-back goals from Ehlers. He put a wrist shot inside the post at 16:48 and scored from back door at 17:57.
“We didn’t play our game for five minutes, and they tied it up,” Ehlers said. “But we knew we had to get back to the way we were playing earlier in the game, and we did that and came back strong to get the two points.”
Ehlers completed the hat trick with a power-play goal at 18:46 of the third.
Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler had three assists, Scheifele added two and Ehlers had one.
The Oilers are trending down, and they know they have to fix things fast.
“We were giving up breakaways and odd-man rushes,” Oilers forward Milan Lucic said. “When you do that you’re going to end up on the losing side more often than not.
“We get a couple of days to regroup and go over what we need to do better, because the last two games, the chances that we’ve given up is definitely unacceptable.”
NOTES: The Oilers put rookie RW Kailer Yamamoto back in the lineup after scratching him Saturday in Vancouver. Oilers RW Anton Slepyshev made his debut after missing all of the preseason with an ankle injury. They took the places of RW Drake Caggiula (injured) and LW Jujhar Khaira (scratch). ... Jets D Jacob Trouba was minus-5 in the first two games of the season. He was a plus-1 on Monday. ... The 13 goals against the Jets in their first two games of the regular season were a franchise worst. The previous record was 11 during the Atlanta Thrasher years in 1999-2000. ... The Jets went 7-13-1 against the Pacific Division last year and 2-10 against the four Pacific Division playoff teams.