WINNIPEG – The Edmonton Oilers engineered a feisty third-period comeback, rallying from three down to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in overtime on Friday night at MTS Centre.
Anton Slepyshev scored the winning goal, converting a one-time feed from Andrew Miller at 2:43 of overtime.
Anton Lander, Lauri Korpikoski and Rob Klinkhammer scored the others for the Oilers – all within a three-and-a-half-minute span late in the third period.
JC Lipon, Ben Chiarot and Andrew Copp provided the offence for the Jets, while Ondrej Pavelec made 35 saves in a losing cause.
With the loss, the Jets fall to 0-1-2 in the pre-season.
Asked whether or not this kind of loss can be damaging to a team’s psyche – even in the pre-season – Head Coach Paul Maurice said it’s not something that concerns him, “so long as you don’t see a pattern with it.”
“You never want to be casual with your losses, but it gives you something to be gained by [recognizing where] we can be better at that time in the game. The plays that we don’t need to make, the plays that we need to make a lot harder – and that happened a couple times here tonight…
“I didn’t think there was a defining moment to (the breakdown).”
Shots on goal favoured the Oilers by three after a penalty-filled first period. Pavelec was the best player on the ice for either team, stopping all 11 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes. His best came with under five minutes to play on the Oilers’ third man-advantage of the night, robbing Nail Yakupov with a beautiful stop in tight after the puck landed on a tee between the dots.
Brendan Lemieux had the best chance for the Jets, but his try from the far circle struck iron during a rare stretch of even strength play.
The Oilers finished the night 1-for-8 on the power-play. Of the eight minor penalties taken by the Jets, six were stick infractions.
“This was just an unusual game of penalties and we were responsible for all of them,” Maurice said. “You get a stick in their feet and they go down, whether you like the call or not, that’s just a penalty. Discipline is an area of focus for our team and I’m very confident we’ll get better with it.”
The Jets opened the scoring at 6:55 of the second period, capitalizing on a fortuitous bounce at the blue line that kept the play alive and onside. Driving the net, Lipon was the beneficiary of a pass from Chase De Leo, easily pounding the puck past Ben Scrivens for the Jets’ first home goal of the pre-season. De Leo’s feed was a thing of a beauty, rifling it through the legs of Oilers defenceman Andrej Sekera and perfectly on target at the lip of the blue paint.
The home side extended to a 2-0 lead at 12:32 as Chiarot scored for the second straight game, lobbing a wrister through traffic, top shelf.
The Jets went up by three with 4:45 to play in the middle frame. Pouncing on a loose puck in the crease, Copp made no mistake, feathering a shot over the outstretched arm of Scrivens for the three-nil tally.
“We obviously don’t want to give up those three goals in the third, but I felt pretty good out there,” Copp said.
The 21-year-old is auditioning for the vacant fourth-line centre spot and is among a host of youngsters looking to earn his way in.
“It’s going to be an adjustment any time you come junior, the AHL or the NCAA. I’m trying to get up to speed and try to figure out where my game fits into this league. I feel like I started to find my way a
little bit out there today.”
Added Maurice: “We’ll have to make a decision in the next five or six days of two or three guys that have stood out and give them a chance down the stretch.”
After five straight penalties to open the game, the Jets were finally awarded a power-play when Oilers enforcer Luke Gazdic was sent off for roughing at 16:09. The Jets levelled the shot count at 20 apiece, but were unable to extend the lead.
Back-to-back penalties to Philip McRae (tripping and checking to the head) and another to Andrew Miller (holding) gave the Jets an extended 5-on-3 midway through the third period, but like their earlier advantage, nothing came of it.
That proved costly.
Shovelling home a rebound, Lander brought the Oilers a little closer with a power-play goal at 12:51, setting the stage for late-game rally.
Less than a minute later, Nikita Nikitin delivered a fabulous pass to Korpikoski, who made no mistake in the slot, sailing a high redirect into the top corner to make it 3-2. Klinkhammer then brought the game back on even terms with a shorthanded goal with 3:27 to play.
Outshooting the Jets 16-11 in the third period, the Oilers were in driver’s seat heading to overtime.
“We have to have the attitude that we want to win every game and it doesn’t matter if it’s exhibition or the (regular) season,” Pavelec said.
“We had enough experience to close the game and we didn’t. But it’s exhibition. We’ll be better next time.”
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com