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

by Patrick Williams /

WINNIPEG -- Two nights after grinding out a road win against the Detroit Red Wings, a visit from the injury-ravaged Edmonton Oilers seemed to be two points that the Winnipeg Jets could bank for the stretch drive to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Jets managed to do so, but they might have come with a price.

In a game in which the Jets lost two forwards to injuries and outshot the Oilers 46-22, they erased three deficits and defeated the Oilers in a 5-4 shootout win at MTS Centre.

Bryan Little scored twice and leads the Jets (30-19-10) with 23 goals. Tyler Myers, who was acquired in a multi-player trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 11, scored his first goal with Winnipeg, and Andrew Ladd tied the game 4-4 late in the third period. Winnipeg possesses the first wild card in the Western Conference, four points ahead of the San Jose Sharks and seven clear of the Minnesota Wild.

Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler had the deciding goal in the shootout.

"I don't know [whether] it was harder [than expected]," Ladd said. "It went down to the wire a little more than we wanted it to. We did a lot of good things. We created a lot. You've got to give them credit. Their goalie played well, and when they got their opportunities, they put the puck in the net.

"We were able to keep with it, keep battling and find a way to get two points. At the end of the day, that's all that matters. It shows how resilient we are and composed, more than anything."

Winnipeg finished the game with 10 forwards. Left wing Mathieu Perreault sustained a lower-body injury after taking a first-period hit from Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry. Perreault did not return, and his status is unknown. Perreault's 18 goals rank him third on the Jets.

Winnipeg right wing Drew Stafford, another addition in the trade with Buffalo, left the game because of an upper-body injury in the third period and did not finish the game.

"We'll have a better handle late [on Tuesday]," Jets coach Paul Maurice said.

Edmonton's Nail Yakupov had two goals and extended his points streak to five games (three goals, three assists). Anton Lander scored a power-play goal in the first period, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a third-period breakaway goal.

"(Oilers coach Todd Nelson) said we had to battle for each other," Yakupov said.

Edmonton went 2-for-4 on the power play. Winnipeg has allowed two power-play goals in each of its past three games.

The Oilers (16-32-10) finished a season-high six-game road trip at 2-3-1. Edmonton was playing without injured forwards Taylor Hall, Matt Hendricks and Tyler Pitlick, defenseman Nikita Nikitin and goaltender Ben Scrivens.

"It was pretty entertaining," Nelson said. "That's a good hockey team over there. They're a heavy team. They play with a lot of pace, but our boys hung in there."

Maurice broke from his recent goaltending rotation between rookie Michael Hutchinson and Ondrej Pavelec. Hutchinson started his second consecutive game and made 18 saves.

Viktor Fasth had 42 saves for Edmonton, but left the game after facing one shot in the shootout because of a knee injury. Richard Bachman finished the shootout.

Nelson said that he did not have any additional information on Fasth's status; he will be evaluated when the Oilers return home.

"You have to give credit to [Fasth]," Hutchinson said. "He really kept them in the game."

Winnipeg jumped out to a 10-2 lead in shots and grabbed a 1-0 lead 7:46 into the game. With Edmonton's Keith Aulie off for tripping, the Jets pressured heavily before Little put Toby Enstrom's rebound past Fasth.

Yakupov tied the game at 13:49 when he cut past the defense down the right side and tucked his seventh goal between Hutchinson's pads.

"It was definitely one of his better games," Nelson said of Yakupov. "He was skating well tonight, and I think that once he got his first goal, he felt confident. He's moving in the right direction."

Ladd's penalty 33 seconds after Yakupov's goal set up Edmonton's first power play. The Oilers went up 2-1 when Lander slid a rebound past Hutchinson at 15:19.

Little's second of the game made it 2-2 after he snapped a high shot from the left circle past Fasth's glove at 8:16 of the second period.

"It was just one of those nights," Little said. "I felt good. My legs felt good, and I was getting a ton of chances."

However, Nugent-Hopkins built Edmonton's second lead of the game 1:08 into the third period when he took an outlet pass from Petry and broke in on net before sending a low shot past Hutchinson. The goal tied Nugent-Hopkins with Jordan Eberle for the Oilers' lead with 15 goals.

Myers broke another Edmonton lead when he beat Fasth cleanly with a long slap shot for his fourth goal of the season.

"I feel like I'm learning something new about the group every day," said Myers of his third game with the Jets. "Tonight we showed a lot of resilience. To be a part of a team that sticks with the plan, doesn't deviate, trying to do too much when we're down or even when we're up. Playing the same way no matter what the situation is, it's a good feeling."

Maurice has leaned heavily on Myers in a pairing with Enstrom. Myers played 20:03 of even-strength time Monday, second among Winnipeg defensemen.

"Some guys get better when the game is on the line or you're behind a little bit, and [Myers] seems to be one of those guys that find way to make a difference in the game," Maurice said. "He has [played] big minutes."

After Yakupov's power-play goal at 15:14 made it 4-3, Ladd's 20th goal 42 seconds later off a scramble erased Edmonton's third lead of the game.

Despite the loss, Nelson was pleased with his players' response after a 7-2 loss against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Nelson spoke with his players before they faced Winnipeg.

"The message was we just want to care about [each] other," Nelson said. "Don't leave your teammate hanging. The guys took it to heart, and they responded.

"I think there were a lot of ups and downs to this trip. We faced adversity tonight. We knew it was going to be a difficult game. But we got a point out of it. We can take something out of that."

The Oilers will play five of their next six games at Rexall Place.

"Obviously we're missing some pieces and scoring touch and whatnot, but we found a way to pick it up tonight," Nugent-Hopkins said. "When you get down a couple of guys, you've got to fight even harder, and I thought we did a great job of that tonight. We've shown a bit of that on this road trip. We've got to keep the same mentality and same work ethic when we go back home."

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