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Trouba's winner keeps Jets undefeated under Maurice

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets are still perfect undefeated under new coach Paul Maurice.

Rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba scored his second goal of the game 1:10 into overtime to give Winnipeg a 3-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at MTS Centre. The win was the Jets' third in a row since Maurice replaced Claude Noel this past Sunday and pushed the Oilers' winless streak to four games.

The Jets used third-period goals from Trouba and fellow rookie Mark Scheifele to erase a 1-0 lead after Edmonton's Jordan Eberle had opened the scoring 6:59 into second period. But David Perron forced overtime when he scored with exactly two minutes remaining in regulation.

Early in overtime, Blake Wheeler's partial breakaway did not beat Edmonton goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. But the U.S. Olympian grabbed the loose puck and fed Trouba in the slot, where he stuffed the puck into the net for the winner.

"I think we're just having fun and rolling with it," Trouba said. "Nobody really got down when [Edmonton scored]. We responded well, and I think everyone was pretty happy with how we played."

Bryzgalov made 36 saves for the Oilers (15-30-6); Ondrej Pavelec stopped 20 of 22 shots for the Jets (22-23-5).

After firing 24 shots at Bryzgalov through 40 minutes, the Jets finally solved him 5:48 into the third period on Trouba's sixth goal, which tied the game 1-1. Scheifele put the Jets up 4:49 later with his ninth goal and his first career home tally before Perron's 18th goal.

"I'm really pleased with the outcome, because the effort was really good," Maurice said. "The intensity was good. There was nothing easy about that for us."

The loss spoiled a strong effort from Bryzgalov, who held the Oilers in a game in which they were outshot 39-22. With one win in their past five games and a 2-6-2 mark in their past 10, the Oilers' defensive struggles had cost them dearly before they arrived in Winnipeg. The Oilers had allowed 14 goals in their past three games, the most recent of which was a 4-1 road loss Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.

"I thought [Bryzgalov] battled," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I thought he was in the fight there. He was holding his ground as Winnipeg tried coming to that crease and that's important. You need your goalie in there fighting like that, and I thought he was good."

With the Jets, Maurice has undertaken the task of repairing some of the defensive issues for a team that began the game ranked 22nd in the NHL with 2.94 goals allowed per game.

Since Maurice's arrival, Winnipeg has now allowed five goals in three games. Jets captain Andrew Ladd credited Maurice with changing the team's mindset.

"The whole group I don't think was the most confident group when he got here," Ladd said. "He has done a good job of building us up and letting us know we're good hockey players."

A tendency to allow opponents to dictate a game's style and a habit of straying from the game plan depending on the score had plagued the Jets long before Maurice arrived. The new coach has emphasized a strict adherence to the game plan.

"This is what I liked about this game," Maurice said. "We've got this building as a bit of a powder keg. If we can get a goal in the first five minutes, this building will rock the rest of the night. But what we didn't do in a 0-0 game or down one was open up our game or change."

Eberle put the Oilers up 1-0 after a hooking minor to Winnipeg's Eric O'Dell set up their third power play of the game early in the second period. The Oilers needed 15 seconds to crack the Winnipeg penalty kill when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins reached Eberle with a cross-ice pass through the bottom of the slot to the left circle that the wing snapped over Pavelec's left shoulder for his 16th goal at 6:59.

Before Trouba's first goal, Bryzgalov had sparkled during the second period, fending off 13 Winnipeg shots. That included two big in-close stops on Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien.

But with Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom off for hooking early in the third period, Little broke through the Edmonton defense and cruised to the left circle before sending a pass across the slot that Trouba tipped past Bryzgalov. Trouba's goal was the ninth shorthanded goal the Oilers have allowed this season, the most in the NHL.

Scheifele's go-ahead goal came off another scramble at the edge of Bryzgalov's crease.

With the likes of Byfuglien hovering near Bryzgalov, Eakins admitted that the Oilers had difficulty contending with the Jets' size down low.

"The one thing that Winnipeg did excellently was that they went to the net and they went hard," Eakins said. "It looks like they're trying to take a page out of [the] Los Angeles [Kings], St. Louis [Blues], Anaheim [Ducks] and bully you at the front of the net."

The transition to such a game continues for the Oilers.

"We need to play a bigger game, a stronger game," Eakins said. "We're fine early. As the game wears on and the game gets harder and harder, we don't have the strength to quite sustain it for the full 60 minutes. As these players get more experience and grow, we'll be able to sustain it.

"The identity of the Edmonton Oilers for a long time has been all about skill and 1980s Oilers. The game's not played that way anymore. The game is played the hard way, and our players are slowly buying into it. They see what the top teams are doing, especially over in [the Western Conference].

"These are big, strong, simple teams, and they play extremely hard games. Once we begin to enjoy the hard parts of the games, we'll be much better. It's going to take time."

For Winnipeg, the adjustments continue as well. Maurice and his players have noticed a more upbeat feeling on the bench, regardless of the score. Instead, the Jets stuck to their game plan and remained confident that they would eventually prevail, something that Maurice has stressed.

"It's one thing if you're not creating anything or nothing is happening, but I thought we did a lot great job of creating," Ladd said. "I think when you're playing that way, it creates excitement on the bench and it's just a matter of time."

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