There is plenty of attention on the Winnipeg Jets’ young players, and entering Sunday’s contest at the Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Connor continues to forge his way into a conversation that typically centers around Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. Connor scored his 12th goal and recorded an assist in the Jets’ 4-2 home victory Friday over the New York Islanders, moving the 21-year-old into the top 10 among NHL rookies with 23 points.
“The growth has been spectacular,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice told reporters after Friday’s victory in assessing the development of Connor, who recorded five points in 20 games last season. “He’s a completely different player.” The Oilers have their share of youthful talent, most notably center Connor McDavid, who entered Saturday seventh in the league in points (45). Edmonton fell 4-3 in overtime to Chicago at home Friday after a 4-3 loss at Winnipeg on Wednesday, which followed a four-game winning streak. “We were able to come back and earn the point, but it was a frustrating night for our team and for some individuals,” Edmonton coach Todd McLellan told the media afterward.
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ABOUT THE JETS (22-11-6): Connor and forward Blake Wheeler each finished with two points Friday, in the first game since linemate and center Mark Scheifele was lost for six-to-eight weeks with an upper-body injury. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was solid in making 42 saves Friday and is tied for third in the NHL in wins with 20. One area of concern is away from home, as Winnipeg has won just once in its past nine road contests.
ABOUT THE OILERS (17-18-3): Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a goal with two assists against the Blackhawks, snapping a two-game point drought and giving him seven points in his past six games. Goaltender Cam Talbot allowed four goals for the second consecutive game, dropping his record to 14-11-2 one season after he shared the NHL lead with 42 wins. Edmonton is last in the NHL in penalty killing at 72.7 percent and has allowed a league-high 33 power-play goals through Friday.
1. Friday’s defeat dropped Edmonton to 8-10-1 at home, where the Oilers play their next three games.
2. Winnipeg placed F Brandon Tanev (lower-body) on injured reserve Saturday and recalled F Jack Roslovic, who is tied for third in the AHL in points (15 goals, 20 assists in 31 games) entering Saturday.
3. The Jets have outscored Edmonton 9-5 in winning the first two meetings this season.
PREDICTION: Jets 4, Oilers 2