Goaltending and giveaways were the difference. Final Score: 6-5 Jets
The last time these teams met, the Oilers blew the two-goal lead they had heading into the third period as a result of some shoddy defending, poor special teams, and a total inability to get a big save when they needed it, and I was eager to find out whether or not the improvements we’ve seen in the weeks following that series would be applied again tonight. I wanted to know that the Oilers could replicate the strong team game they played against Montreal to limit the Jets’ offensive chances while also creating some of their own. This Jets team is one that doesn’t give up a whole lot of goals nor powerplay chances, and I felt as though the Oilers were going to have to get another dose of depth scoring and win the 5-on-5 battle if they were going to add another two points to the bank. I guess I was kinda right? Maybe?
With 20 minutes in the books, this felt like a night where mistakes were going to end up in the back of the net and the Oilers had to figure it out quickly because they got caught twice in the period for being unable to clear their own zone. While they were able to get one of those goals back with another depth marker from Chiasson, but this wasn’t the start we needed and the giveaways were avoidable. The offence was rolling, but the boys needed to tighten things up in their own end. They needed to defend with the dedication and passion of a teen romance novel. Unfortunately, that is not what happened, at least not in the early going. The bad news is that the Jets pumped two quick goals home in the opening minutes of the period, metaphorically kicking the Oilers in the balls despite the fact that they were actually playing well. They didn’t even really have a chance to settle in before finding themselves in a hole again. The good news is that the home side didn’t quit.
Unphased by what appeared to be the devastating blow of a three-goal mountain to climb, Edmonton pushed ahead with wave after wave of shots and chances on net, chipping away at Winnipeg’s multi-goal lead until the score was tied for a second time. Shift-by-shift, they started to come back. Momentum was on our side, the vibe was good, the boys were buzzin’, I could feel it. To me, the story was written in the stars and the Oilers were about to be rewarded with a hell of a comeback and at least a point in the standings. I was getting ready to make all kinds of airport jokes and forward the domain to Jetsnation.ca over to a picture of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but then… disaster. As was the case all night long, the Oilers shot themselves in the foot with an avoidable giveaway that resulted in the winning goal against, robbing them of at least a point and negating what could have been a very impressive outing.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Shortly after Winnipeg opened the scoring, Alex Chiasson tied the game (1-1) after picking up a pass in flight along the left-wing and firing a shot that beat Hellebuyck down low. Chiasson wasn’t done with
- Over the last couple of weeks, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hasn’t been able to bury any of his many chances and it always felt like he was due but we didn’t know when it was going to make it happen. Thankfully, after at least a dozen grade-A chances, RNH was able to sink a powerplay goal (4-2) after taking a cross-ice pass from McDavid that set him up with time and a lane. Nugent-Hopkins added a second goal to tie the game (5-5) after taking a second cross-ice pass, this time from Puljujarvi, and he fired a laserbeam past Hellebuyck on the glove hand side.
- After a run of four games without a point, Kailer Yamamoto drew the Oilers back to within reach (4-3) by tipping Darnell Nurse’s point shot perfectly. Like Nugent-Hopkins, Yamamoto was getting his share of chances but he wasn’t able to get anything to work, and I’m hopeful that tonight’s goal will be the start of something.
- Mikko Koskinen came into the game in what can only be described as unfavourable circumstances, and I thought he did a passable but not great job in relief of Mike Smith. Both goals that beat him were deflections that changed direction right in front of the net, so I’d have a hard time hanging both or either of them on Kostco. Frankly, I’m still annoyed with Kahun’s giveaway that resulted in Wheeler’s game-winner. Regardless, Koskinen’s night ended with 11 saves and a .846 save% in just over 35 minutes of TOI.
- With the pair of assists he ended with, Evan Bouchard now has four points in six games played since drawing into the lineup. From where I blog, I don’t know how you can ever take him out of the lineup.
- The powerplay came up with a big goal by the top unit (1/2 on the night) and it kicked off the comeback that should have worked if the Hockey Gords loved us.
- Oilers outshot the Jets 45-24 and it was honestly awesome to watch them approach the night with a shooter’s mentality.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Mark Schiefele opened the scoring for the Jets (1-0) midway through the first period with a powerplay goal that came on a weak call, in my opinion. Regardless of my thoughts on the penalty, Winnipeg was rewarded for moving the puck around the Oilers’ zone effectively and you have to give Wheeler credit for setting Scheifele up on a tee for the one-timer.
- Kyle Connor restored Winnipeg’s lead (2-1) after intercepting a weak clearing attempt from Kailer Yamamoto in the slot. Yamamoto took a swing at the puck to try and clear the zone but it didn’t get very far, granting Connor the moment he needed to capitalize. It was yet another instance where failing to clear the puck ended up in the back of the Oilers’ net.
- Mason Appleton threw some sand in our eyes in the first minute of the middle frame (3-1) with a quick wrister that beat Smith through the five-hole, extending Winnipeg’s lead to a pair.
- Only moments after Appleton’s, Nikolaj Ehlers took a cross-ice pass from Kyle Connor and ended Smith’s night with a perfectly placed snapshot to the top corner and increased the deficit to three goals. Frankly, at this point, I was thinking beets.
- Mathieu Perreault scored the Jets’ third goal of the second period (5-3) in a similar fashion to Yamamoto’s goal that came moments before as he too tipped a point shot past the goaltender from right in the slot.
- Just over six minutes into the final period, Blake Wheeler gave the Jets their third separate lead of the night with yet another deflection that came from the top of the crease, changing direction only feet in front of Koskinen. Kahun gets tagged with a costly turnover on this play and I don’t think he played a shift afterwards.
- Mike Smith was back between the pipes for his third start in the last four games and I was very interested to see how the veteran netminder was going to follow up his shutout performance against the Montreal Canadiens. Unfortunately, on this night, it was not meant to be for Mike Smith. Now, I’m not going to say that everything that beat him was his fault, I actually think that the team was sluggish in front of him, but once the wheels started falling off there was no getting the game back under control — Tippett had to make the switch. Smith finished with seven saves and a .636 save%.
- Dominik Kahun… you know what you did.
- Kyle Turris played only 6:53 tonight. Yikes.
- William Lagesson left the game after playing only 6:47 and we didn’t get much of an update on what happened to him. I’ve thought Lagesson has been playing well recently and I hope whatever took him out is nothing too serious.
- The Oilers gave up two goals in under two minutes for the 10th time tonight. The T-E-N-T-H time in 17 games. Unreal.
- The PK allowed a goal against on only two Jets chances, which is going to bring the average down from the 75.5% they started with.
- SIX GOALS AGAINST ON 24 SHOTS IS A PRODUCT OF SO MANY AVOIDABLE MISTAKES BY PLAYERS AND INCONSISTENT GOALTENDING THAT I THINK I MAY GO CRAZY! End rant.
Alex and Answer both start with A… just sayin’…
— Andolf (@AndolfAlberta) February 16, 2021
Nuge couldn't finish a juice box right now. Couple of great looks on that fire drill.
— Michael Parkatti (@mparkatti) February 16, 2021
The duality of man
— a Man who enjoys an ice cold Pepsi (@h0tmilkhours) February 16, 2021
— Mike M (@thatguymikem) February 16, 2021
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