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Wheeler's goal leads Jets to shootout win vs. Oilers

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG – Mr. Automatic does it again.

Michael Hutchinson is now 14-for-14 in career shootout attempts after thwarting all three Edmonton shooters Monday night, helping the Winnipeg Jets defeat the Oilers 5-4 at MTS Centre.

Blake Wheeler scored the dramatic shootout winner, pulling off a deke so magnificent, Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth injured himself attempting to make the save, forcing him from the game. Richard Bachman came in to face the final two shooters.

Bryan Little hit the post, while Andrew Ladd was stoned by the relief netminder.

Little scored twice in regulation, while Ladd and Tyler Myers – the latter tallying his first as a Jet – added singles in the win. Hutchinson made 18 saves as the Jets outshot the Oilers 46-22 and, according to Head Coach Paul Maurice, out-chanced them 32-11.

With the win, the Jets improve to 30-19-10 and with 70 points on the year, continue to pace the Western Conference wild card race.

“For most of the game we played exactly the way we wanted to,” Myers, who in addition to his goal, had three shots and a +1 rating in over 22 minutes of ice time. “We out-chanced them pretty drastically. The key was sticking to our plan and we knew that if we did that, it would all come together – and it did.

“How hard these guys play the system, it’s not that surprising [that things are opening up for me]. Everyone is on the same page and it’s allowing for each guy in the room to get the most out of what they can do. … I’m pretty excited to play many more games here.”

The Jets took a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 7:46. With Oilers defenceman Keith Aulie off serving a tripping penalty, Little deposited a loose puck in the crease after a flurry in tight. Shots on goal favoured the Jets 10-2 at this point in the game, but the Oilers fought back, scoring twice in a minute-and-a-half span to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

Scoring a beautiful goal off the rush, Nail Yakupov brought the game back on even terms at 13:49. Dancing in after evading a check at the blue line, Yakupov pinned a shot five-hole on Hutchinson, making it a 1-1 game on the Oilers’ third shot of the period.

Anton Lander recorded a power-play goal on their fourth.

Blocking a point shot in front, the Oilers forward then curled around the extended right pad of Hutchinson before sliding home his fourth of the year, stunning the 15,016 on hand at MTS Centre.

Anthony Peluso got the crowd back in it moments later as he dropped with the mitts for a spirited tilt with Oilers heavyweight Luke Gazdic.

Decision: Peluso.

With the help of Ben Chiarot, who delivered a beautiful, behind-the-back pass in the offensive zone, Little had a glorious chance early in the second period as he found himself alone in the slot, but his shot rang off the crossbar.

But he wasn’t about to miss again.

On an identical helpfully engineered by the smooth-skating Chiarot, Little made no mistake this time around, rifling a shot up and over the left shoulder of Fasth.

“I was getting a ton of chances. It was one of those nights,” Little said. “I felt good and my legs felt good. A couple of those posts go my way and it’s a different game, but I had enough chances to score five. You’re not going to score on all of them.”

With seven minutes left in the middle frame, Dustin Byfuglien delivered a devastating (but clean) hit on Gazdic along the half wall. The 6-foot-4, 233-pound enforcer was unfortunately hurt on the play after smacking his chin on the ice, forcing him from the game.

The Jets were all over the Oilers in the second, outshooting them 12-6 for a two-period differential of 28-12 and Corsi For percentage of 66.1.

“You’d kill for that offence most nights but we were late getting it off or couldn’t get a handle on it around the net and certainly made it a tight game,” Maurice said.

The Oilers went back in front, 3-2, early in the third period as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a beauty on a breakaway, snapping a forehand shot blocker side on Hutchinson.

But the Jets weren’t going quietly.

After Chris Thorburn won a pivotal offensive zone draw, Myers whistled a one-time shot past Fasth, levelling the score once again – 3-3, three-and-a-half minutes in.

“Those guys have come in here and played three completely different games,” Maurice said of the new acquisitions, Myers and Stafford. “Some guys get better when the game’s on the line or when you’re behind a little bit. (Myers) seems to be one of those guys. “

A questionable goaltender interference penalty to Michael Frolik put the Jets' penalty kill back to work, but it couldn’t complete the task. Yakupov scored his second of the game with a perfect shot off the post and in, giving the Oilers a 4-3 lead with 4:46 on the clock.

“They were really opportunistic. They buried their chances when they got them,” Hutchinson said. “We’re going to give up chances during the game, but it’s my job to make the save.

"I just made our players work a little harder tonight.”

Those pesky Jets…

Ladd made it a 4-4 game 42 seconds later, swatting a backhand shot past the goaltender after Wheeler choreographed it all with a beautiful rush, coast-to-coast, sending the game to overtime.

“It went down to the wire more than we wanted it to, but we created a lot,” Ladd said. “You’ve got to give their goalie credit. When they got their opportunities, they put the puck in the net. We found a way to stick with it, keep battling and get the two points. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”

LATE HITS: Mathieu Perreault left the game with a lower-body injury midway through the first period and did not return after a hit from Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry; Drew Stafford left with an upper-body injury midway through the third period.

“We’ll have a better handle (on their status) late tomorrow,” Maurice said.

— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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