WINNIPEG -- Less than 24 hours after putting the finishing touches on a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, the Winnipeg Jets will conclude their season series with the Edmonton Oilers (25-35-7) tonight.
For Winnipeg (27-32-5), it was their first win on home ice after dropping the last six. Blake Wheeler led all Jets forwards in ice time (21:54) and shots on goal (5) last night, and says it’s nice to have the winning feeling back in the room.
“It’s nice to be rewarded. I think we’ve been close lately. I think we’ve liked the way we’ve played for the most part,” said Wheeler. “It’s been tough to get the result we’re looking for. So that was nice to finally get it last night.”
It was a game that saw a lot of firsts, as Mark Scheifele recorded his first NHL hat trick, JC Lipon had his first NHL point, and Josh Morrissey played his first NHL game. But with all that in the past, head coach Paul Maurice says there is a lot the team can do better tonight against an Oilers team coming off a 6-3 loss to Columbus on Friday.
“I don’t know if the video showed it was a whole lot different than what we’ve been going through,” said Maurice. “Lots of things to clean up. It wasn’t a barn burner last night, so lots of places to get better.”
The teams have split their two meetings at Rexall Place this season. The Oilers took the first one 3-1, with goaltender Cam Talbot turning aside 44 of 45 Jets shots. The Jets won the most recent meeting, a 2-1 shoot out decision on Feb. 13.
That February match up was the first time the Jets saw Connor McDavid. The rookie had 12 points in his previous six games leading into that match up with the Jets, but Winnipeg kept him off the score sheet.
“He’s already proved that he’s a special talent in the league, even at his age. He has a tremendous amount of speed. We’re going to have to control that and limit the time and space we give him,” said defenceman Tyler Myers. “We’ll focus on what we always try to go into games focused on. That’s playing a tight gap on guys and not letting him have much room out there.”
“We were on the right side of him most times. There were a couple times where we were on the right side of him and it didn’t matter,” Maurice said. “You may have to layer that defence with a player like that.”
McDavid had four shots on goal in just over 20 minutes of ice time before being stopped by Ondrej Pavelec in the shoot out. Pavelec will get the start tonight according to Maurice. The netminder stopped 26 of 28 shots in last night’s win over Montreal.
“I liked what I saw. He didn’t have a whole lot of work early,” said Maurice. “He won a game, we’ll give him a chance to get back in the net. He’s had lots of rest this year.”
A win tonight would be Winnipeg’s second of the home stand, which concludes Tuesday against Nashville. As much as Saturday’s win may have changed the momentum, tonight is a new challenge.
“Forget about it quick,” Myers said, speaking of the mindset going into tonight. “With the game tonight, our last back-to-back of the year, we want to come out strong and maybe put together a little run here.”
Puck drop at MTS Centre is 6 pm CT.
Jacob Trouba skated prior to a 10 am team meeting today after missing last night’s game with an upper-body injury. Maurice says the defenceman is a game time decision tonight.