Cam Talbot made 35 saves but the Winnipeg Jets skated away with a 4-3 victory, snapping Edmonton's four-game win streak
WINNIPEG, MB - The Oilers returned from the holiday break and right to Winnipeg for their second meeting of the season vs. the Jets. Any worry of the dreaded post-holiday "turkey legs" on either side were quickly vanquished as the pace in the opening frame hardly resembled that of two teams who hadn't played in over three days-at least not offensively.
The Oilers head back home to host Chicago on Friday at 7:00 p.m. MST. The game can be seen on Sportsnet, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet East and Sportsnet Pacific. It can be heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
The Oilers took the first penalty of the night six minutes into the first and both teams would benefit from the ensuing Jets power play.
A misplay at the Jets blueline sprung Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on a 2-on-0 shorthanded breakaway which ended in a way one has come to expect, with McDavid leaving a sneaky pass behind for Draisaitl to put away and open the scoring seven minutes into the first. The goal was Draisaitl's 9th of the year and extended his current point streak to five games.
Winnipeg would eventually capitalize on that man-advantage when Bryan Little put one high on a sprawled Cam Talbot to even things up.
Minutes later the home side would jump to a 2-1 lead but the Oilers quickly found the equalizer off the stick of Jesse Puljujarvi when he buried a Kris Russell rebound to make it 2-2 after the first period. Despite getting two on the board early, the Oilers felt tighter defensive play was needed on their end.
"The sharpness in our game wasn't there," said Oilers forward Mark Letestu
"It led to a lot of their opportunities and I felt we kind of fed into (their transition game)."
The second period opened with more offence when the Jets potted one in first minute of the period and added another at the midway mark of the 2nd before the Oilers responded when Jujhar Khaira's tucked one under the bar from the left wing for his 7th of the season to cut Winnipeg's lead to 4-3 after 40 minutes.
Despite taking two minor penalties in the final frame and going up against the Jets league-leading power play at home (35.1%), the Oilers were able to kill off both to keep the 4-3 game within reach. Despite the late-game kills, Edmonton knew putting themselves down a man twice in the 3rd hampered their chances of tying the game late.
"Eight minutes of the night we spent killing," said Head Coach Todd McLellan.
"When you play a team like that, they get some energy and momentum from their power play, especially on home ice. I thought their energy level went up and we ended up taking a few of our players out of the game because of the penalty kill."
The Oilers had a flurry of chances with under a minute remaining with Cam Talbot pulled for the extra attacker, but none made it past Hellebuyck as the Jets were able to hang on for the 4-3 win.
Despite dropping the two points, the resiliency that has characterized the Oilers recent play didn't disappear as they kept the game within one and came inches from tying it several times in the dying seconds. With their next and final meeting of the regular season vs. Winnipeg coming in less than a week, they're aware of the opportunity for redemption.
"The good news is we get these guys in a couple days to show what we really have," said Letestu.
With the loss, the Oilers see their record fall back to a game under .500 and will look to improve on a 17-18-2 record with a home matchup vs. Chicago on Friday at 7pm.