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GAME CHANGER: Man-advantage mastery

The Oilers revived their power play with a 3-for-4 effort against the Winnipeg Jets to win 6-3 in our latest Game Changer

by Paul Gazzola /

It's simple: a potent power play can change the outcome of a game.

And the Oilers found that out one December night in Winnipeg when the squad went 3-for-4 on the man-advantage to soar back from two early deficits and eventually fly past the Jets with a 6-3 victory - with Oilers forwards Leon Draisaitl, Mark Letestu and Connor McDavid teaming up to produce six power play points combined.

Prior to their match against Winnipeg, Edmonton was in the midst of a three-game slide and their power play had not capitalized in 12 attempts. That changed quickly, as Letestu and Draisaitl would revive the man-advantage three times in three different ways.

The first: a redirection.

Down 1-0 as Jets forward Chris Thorburn was in the box for high-sticking Patrick Maroon, the Oilers flexed their man-advantage muscle just 17 seconds into their first chance of the night. McDavid moved the puck from the right half-wall to the right point, where Andrej Sekera stood. Sekera transported the biscuit along the blueline to Draisaitl, who slap-passed a perfect feed to Letestu with his stick down in the slot. The puck was redirected over the glove of Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to give Letestu his first power play goal and third of the season, but the veteran was only getting started.

Video: EDM@WPG: Letestu deflects shot, scores PPG

The next man-advantage marker came off a rebound courtesy of the Deutschland Dangler as the Oilers were once again down by a goal.

McDavid - quarterbacking the first unit from the right half-wall - drew two Jets penalty killers towards him before releasing a wrist shot on net as Draisaitl and Milan Lucic provided a screen. Hellebuyck spit out the shot but the rebound found Draisaitl, who deposited the puck into the net for his sixth power-play goal and eighth of the season, tying the game at 2-2. 

Video: EDM@WPG: Draisaitl jams home a PPG in front

Letestu's next power play strike gave the Oilers their first lead of the night.

McDavid skated inside the Jets zone with puck possession, then dished it over to Lucic along the left wall. The hulking winger skated along the boards, waiting patiently for the next move he would make. As Lucic surveyed the ice, Letestu popped into the slot. Lucic connected a pass to Letestu and the Oilers centre swiftly ripped a shot glove side on Hellebuyck. The penalty kill and power play purveyor scored his second man-advantage goal of the night to add to the two shorthanded markers he already collected during the season. 

Video: EDM@WPG: Letestu buries his second PPG of the night

"We capitalized, which is something we haven't been doing in the games we've been losing," said Letestu of the revived power play. "The power play really wasn't effective, but tonight it was really probably the difference of the game. The way we executed, the way we got goals, it's nice that showed up for us tonight."

Edmonton took control the rest of the way, with Maroon, Draisaitl and Benoit Pouliot netting even-strength goals to double up on the Jets 6-3. 

Although Winnipeg scored two goals a man up themselves - both provided by rookie sniper Patrik Laine - the Orange & Blue defeated their opponent to improve to 13-10-2 on the season.

"Work ethic went up, execution went up, power play performed," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan post-game.

The Oilers would go on to end the 2016-17 campaign with a 22.9 power play percentage, good for fifth in the League. McDavid and Draisaitl each notched 27 points on the man-advantage and Letestu finished the season with 14 himself - including 11 power play goals.

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