WINNIPEG – For the second time in as many meetings this season, the Winnipeg Jets fired 40 or more shots on Edmonton goaltender Cam Talbot.
And for the second time, they were unable to get more than a single one past him.
Patrick Maroon and Lauri Korpikoski each had a goal as the Oilers did just enough to escape with a 2-1 win over the Jets.
“When you put up 40 shots, you say you’ve got enough,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “So how do you maximize more of what you get? I’m just going to leave it at strength; physical and mental strength in the offensive zone, being able to win one more battle and get loose in front of the net.”
That’s what the Oilers were able to do, despite their nine fewer shots on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who was good again tonight in a back-to-back situation.
The Oilers opened the scoring at 5:25 of the second period, but the Jets replied less than a minute later when Mark Scheifele scored his ninth in nine games, 21st of the year and 41st point with a beautiful shot five-hole.
“I’ve been feeling good,” Scheifele said. “On my goal today, it was a great pass by Wheels. I just tried to get open and get a shot on net.”
Less than 24 hours after recording a hat trick – the first of his young career – in a 4-2 win over Montreal, Scheifele picked up right where he left off, stepping up in the absence of Bryan Little by leading the charge offensively and playing the responsible, two-way game lauded by the coach.
Scheifele had a great chance to tie it in the final minute with the goalie pulled, but he rifled a shot off the crossbar – a “heartbreaking sound,” as he described it.
“I hate the posts. … (Talbot) made the saves when he needed to,” he said. “It definitely sucks to come out on the wrong end again, but we’ve got a day off to regroup and we’ll look forward to Nashville.”
Korpikoski put the Oilers back in front with 3:39 to play in the period. After the Jets got crossed up in the defensive zone, the Finn made his way to the net, won a battle in front and put home the rebound from an Andrej Sekera backhand.
The Jets were the better of the two teams in the middle frame, outshooting the Oilers 20 to 14, while also getting the bulk of the scoring chances. Scheifele had a couple, including an impressive, inside-out move on Oilers defenceman Mark Fayne, but Talbot made some kind of the save on the backhand, blocking the far side with his right pad.
“They’re really carrying the load for us right now,” fellow forward Adam Lowry said of the Scheifele, Wheeler, Stafford trio. “We know that other people are going to start chipping in, but for the most part, outside of a few breakdowns, the consistency was there tonight.
“It’s frustrating. Any time a goalie makes 40 saves, he’s probably seeing a lot of them. We had some good chances to score but our mentality needs to be to start creating some more traffic. Our D did a great job tonight of getting pucks to the net. It’s on the forwards to get there for the second and third opportunities.”
The Jets had plenty of them in the first period to try and take an early lead, but eight of their total 21 shot attempts landed off target.
Oilers rookie Connor McDavid had the best chance of the period when he found himself in alone, but Pavelec made a cool, glove save.
Outside of that, McDavid registered five shots in more than 20 minutes of ice time, but wasn’t overly dangerous – a credit, Maurice says, to Scheifele and his line’s efforts in the head-to-head matchup.
“Mark is one of the guys on our team that can skate with him. You have to have somebody in the middle of the ice that can pick him up coming out of his end.”
We’ve seen it plenty of times this season: McDavid winds up in the defensive zone, picks up speed in neutral zone and challenges the defence to either back in or get burned wide. That wasn’t the case tonight.
LATE HITS: The Jets announced after the game that, because he was up on emergency basis, Josh Morrissey has been reassigned to the Manitoba Moose.
“He’ll be back,” Maurice said.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com