Video: WPG Recap: Spacek and Lipon score in 6-2 loss
EDMONTON, AB - With cut-down day only hours away, Saturday's preseason game in Edmonton was the very last chance for many to leave their mark in the fight for a job.
Some did, and the Jets' head coach left Rogers Place with a clearer picture of how the coming days will unfold at the offices back Winnipeg.
Said Paul Maurice in his post-game press conference: "A few guys just made a case."
The Jets, who had 10 players with less than 50 games of NHL experience in tow, were right there with the Oilers for the first 40 until their veteran opponents flipped the switch in the final frame.
Connor McDavid broke a 2-2 tie at 2:21 of a four-goal third period as the Oilers went on to a 6-2 win over the Jets, who fall to 0-3-1 in the exhibition campaign.
On the winning goal, McDavid took a feed from Jesse Puljujarvi and showed great acceleration to drive wide past Julian Melchiori before making a nice move on the forehand and stuffing it home.
Puljujarvi put the Oilers up by two with a power-play goal at 7:03 and that was it for the Jets, who were unable to fight back. The PPG was the result of a Brendan Lemieux goaltender interference penalty that washed out Brandon Tanev's would-be tying goal just moments earlier.
"I thought there was a lot of good stuff to build on tonight," Lemieux said. "I thought of a lot of guys brought their A game and there are definitely some things to improve, but there were some good performances tonight that I'm sure the coaches are happy with.
"This is preseason and that's what this is about. We using this to build off stuff to take into the regular season."
Puljujarvi and Brad Malone added a couple of late goals to round out the scoring.
Michael Spacek and JC Lipon supplied the offence for Winnipeg, while Michael Hutchinson made 34 saves in the loss.
Lipon, in particular, had a strong night as he pushes for a spot, finishing with two shots, two takeaways and three hits in just over 10 minutes of puck-hounding ice time.
"I thought JC Lipon had a real strong game," Maurice said. "That's what this thing is all about. You line yourself up to play the best that you can. He made the most of tonight's game, anyway."
So did Tucker Poolman, who continues to impress in his first camp, playing 16:51 of solid defensive hockey that included some beautiful stick work when he broke up a McDavid 2-on-1 early in the first period.
"He's has a really strong camp," Maurice said. "He hasn't a dip, he hasn't had a lull. He came off the shoulder injury, went into Penticton and got into a game and that, I think, gave him the confidence that he could just relax and go. Right from Penticton on he's been really good."
For the third time in four games, the Jets opened the scoring with a power-play goal. On a jam play in front, Lemieux had his initial try turned aside, but stayed with it and made a slick pass over to Spacek, who chopped it home from a sharp angle past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot at 4:51.
Video: WPG@EDM: Spacek lifts a rebound past Talbot for PPG
Nic Petan drew the other assist for his first point of the preseason.
"I liked (the power play) the whole game," said Petan, who played wing on a line with Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic. "It was really high intensity and we were moving the puck quick. It would have been nice to get a few more (goals). The thought process was right but the execution was lacking."
The Jets finished the night 2-for-7 with the man advantage.
It was a good start for the Jets, who outshot the Oilers 5-3 in the opening five minutes, but the Oilers fought back and scored twice in in 17 seconds to take a 2-1 lead before the 10-minute mark.
Jussi Jokinen struck first for the Oil, as he got a piece of Matt Benning's long point shot to even the score at 8:28. Then, off the ensuing faceoff, Brad Malone shoveled home a loose puck in tight after Hutchinson made a toe save off Kris Russell.
The Jets had a bounce-back middle frame and controlled the majority of play offensively. In doing so, they drew three penalties and just like it did earlier in the game, the extra man paid dividends.
Lipon took a beautiful stretch pass from Dustin Byfuglien, wheeled his way down the far side and rifled a shot on goal. The rebound careened off the end glass and Talbot no idea where it was, giving Lipon a free shot at the open cage as he raced in after the rebound.
Video: WPG@EDM: Lipon bangs in a rebound after a wild carom
"My first game was in Minnesota and after the summer your timing is off," Lipon said. "I definitely felt more comfortable tonight and I just tried to do something every night to get another game.
"To stick with them, that's pretty big motivation. It shows you can play with those guys and play at that level."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com