Winnipeg Beats Oilers But Lose Scheifele


WINNIPEG, MB – A 20-minute oil change can be tough to beat. On Wednesday night, the Winnipeg Jets beat it by two hours and 40 minutes. It may have taken a full three hours, but the Winnipeg Jets were rewarded with a successful oil change as they handed the visiting Edmonton Oilers their first loss in five games at a jam-packed Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.

Wednesday’s all-Canadian matchup certainly lived up to its anticipated hype. Anytime that world-class players with the talent of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers meet up, spectators are bound to receive quite the treat.

The mid-week post-Christmas break evening showdown certainly provided enough treats to go all the way down Portage Avenue from the Bell MTS Place, to the Perimeter Highway, and back again.

Judging Edmonton by its 17-18-2 season record may be slightly unfair to the Oilers of late, who have strung together four straight wins, dating back to Saturday, December 16th. And it certainly didn’t take McDavid, Draisaitl and the Oilers long to remind local Winnipeggers exactly what that deadly duo is capable of.

Less than seven minutes into the opening frame, with Edmonton defenceman Darnell Nurse in the sin bin for tripping, Connor Mcdavid and the Oilers struck just 10 seconds into their penalty kill… yes you read that right, their penalty kill. After a mis-play on the blue line, Connor McDavid picked up the loose puck and blew the defensive zone with Leon Draisaitl at his side. Taking it wide, McDavid and Draisaitl crossed paths, and the Oilers’ captain dropped the puck perfectly onto the stick of his linemate, Draisaitl, who made no mistake burying the disc past a highly confused Connor Hellebuyck, giving Edmonton a 1-0 lead.

Seconds after Nurse’s tripping minor expired, the Jets got themselves on the board with a Bryan Little tally off of a perfectly placed bank pass off the end boards by Nikolaj Ehlers. Ten minutes later, Winnipeg’s Joel Armia gave the Jets their first lead of the game as bruiser, Matt Hendricks found the right winger alone in front of the Oilers’ cage. Armia made no mistake ripping home a perfectly placed wrist shot over the catching hand of Cam Talbot, putting the Jets up 2-1.

But once again, just over a minute after the go-ahead goal, the opposition struck. This time it was Edmonton’s turn, as Jesse Puljujarvi jumped on a Kris Russell rebound, and banked it into the Jets’ open net before Hellebuyck could even figure out where the rebound had went.

The second period started with a bang as Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor completed a nifty give-and-go, providing Connor with his 11th goal of the season on a beautiful setup just 54 seconds into the middle frame. With his 288th assist as a Jet/Thrasher, Wheeler moved into first place on the franchise’s all-time assists list, leapfrogging Ilya Kovalchuk.

Shortly after the Wheeler goal, Joel Armia intercepted a Brandon Davidson d-to-d cross-ice pass and took the puck the distance before finding twine past Talbot, low glove side. Armia’s second of the game gave Winnipeg a two goal lead.

That lead, however, would not last long as the Oilers, following script, would beat Hellebuyck once again less than a minute after the Armia marker. Edmonton’s Ryan Strome provided Jujhar Khaira with a perfect setup, and the left winger ripped a quick snap-shot past the Jets’ netminder, bringing the Oilers to within one.

As hard as they tried, Edmonton could not find a fourth goal, and Winnipeg was able to hold on for the 4-3 victory. Although given two points for their effort, the victory may have been a costly one for the Jets as Mark Scheifele finished with just 9:41 ice time after a heavy collision with Brandon Davidson and the end boards removed the Jets’ 2016-17 leading scorer from the game midway through the second period. Early reports indicate that Scheifele suffered a right shoulder injury and will be evaluated Wednesday night, with an update coming Thursday morning.

Winnipeg has now won nine of their last 10 home games, and Connor Hellebuyck has been spectacular in the process. He is currently 13-1-1 at home with a 2.20 goals against average, a .924 save percentage, and has two shutouts.

The Jets will put their 21-11-6 record to the test on Friday as the New York Islanders make their way to Winnipeg for the final game of the 2017 calendar year. Action from Bell MTS Place gets underway at 7:00 P.M. local time, and can be seen live on TSN3. The Jets will then hit the road and travel to Edmonton where they will take on these same Oilers on Sunday.

Carter Brooks, Manitoba Post

Photo James Carey Lauder