EDMONTON, Alberta — The Winnipeg Jets will begin the New Year in first place in the Central Division thanks to a convincing 5-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
The Jets improved to 23-11-6, dealing another serious blow to Edmonton’s fast-fading playoff hopes.
It was never close. The Jets led 2-0 after one period, 4-0 after two periods and piled on in the third. The goals were scored by Mark Dano, Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck earned the shutout with 35 saves. Edmonton’s Cam Talbot stopped 33 of the 38 shots he faced.
The Jets wasted no time jumping on the fragile Oilers, scoring on the first shot of the game just 2:34 after the opening faceoff. The goal came off the stick of Dano, who scored on the first shift of his first game back after being a healthy scratch for 30 straight games.
Despite their need to climb back into the playoff race, the Oilers (17-19-3) didn’t show much urgency in the opening period and found themselves down 2-0 when Oilers defenseman Matt Benning turned the puck over in front of his own net and Wheeler made him pay for it at 13:16.
The Jets didn’t take their foot off the gas in the second period, not that Edmonton offered much in the way of resistance.
The Oilers’ penalty-killing, which is dead last in the NHL at home, let the team down again. Jets winger Connor scored on Winnipeg’s first power play of the game, pretty much sealing the deal with half a game to go.
The Jets made it 4-0 at 19:57 of the second period when Little, left all alone in front of the Edmonton net, scored his seventh of the season.
The Jets added another power-play goal at 7:26 of the third period, this time from Perreault on Winnipeg’s second power play of the game.
NOTES: With the return of D Oscar Klefbom, the Oilers are 100 percent healthy for the first time this season. ... While Edmonton has the fifth best penalty-killing percentage on the road (.851), the Oilers are significantly worse on home ice (.574). ... Winnipeg is 1-5-3 in its past nine road games. ... Sunday marked the sixth time this season that the Jets scored on their first shot of the game. That is the highest total in the NHL. ... The Oilers are 0-12-4 in their past 16 New Year’s Eve games.