WINNIPEG, MB - Heading into Thursday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets, the Oilers were 0-for-12 on the power play in three consecutive losses. They put an end to both streaks with an exclamation mark.
Edmonton scored three power-play goals to defeat the Jets 6-3 at MTS Centre, snap their losing skid and improve to 13-10-2 on the season. Mark Letestu had a huge game, scoring twice and adding an assist, in addition to his usual penalty-killing prowess, while Leon Draisaitl also scored twice with a helper.
"Work ethic went up, execution went up, power play performed," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "I thought we had a little more pace to our game, a little more resilient than we've been in the past… Our team did a lot of good things tonight, and the main part was the work ethic. We got it back where it needed to be."
A frequent issue reared its ugly head for the Oilers as they surrendered the opening goal early in the opening frame. The Jets poured on the pressure right from puck-drop and capitalized just 35 seconds into the game. Bryan Little got the puck on his stick in the slot and ripped a shot past Cam Talbot for his first of the season.
Winnipeg's lead didn't last long, though. Another issue that had been plaguing the Oilers recently, their lack of PP scoring, was kicked to the curb 1:56 after the opening goal as Letestu tallied his third of the season. After Chris Thorburn caught Patrick Maroon with a high stick, Letestu scored just 17 seconds into the man advantage, deflecting a Draisaitl point shot.
The tie didn't last too long either, as Winnipeg struck again with a PPG of their own at the 10:14 mark. Rookie sensation and 2016 second-overall pick Patrik Laine unleashed his potent slapshot on a one-timer from Toby Enstrom and beat Talbot for the 14th goal of his young career. The Finn was two goals back of Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead at the time, as Pittsburgh's captain also scored on Thursday.
Trailing 2-1 through 20 minutes of play, the Oilers didn't waste any time netting the equalizer in the middle frame. After Jacob Trouba took a holding-the-stick penalty just eight seconds into the period, Draisaitl deposited a rebound 43 seconds later on the ensuing PP to make it a 2-2 game. Connor McDavid fired the puck on net with both Draisaitl and Milan Lucic screening in front, and the big German flicked home the loose puck for his eighth of the season.
The Oilers got their third PPG of the night and Letestu's second of the game at the 5:06 mark. With Drew Stafford in the box for hooking, McDavid made a drop-pass to Lucic, who took the puck down the left wing and slid a perfect feed to Letestu, who was cutting towards the net. The versatile vet popped a wrist shot top shelf glove side on Connor Hellebuyck for his fourth of the year.
"We capitalized, which is something we haven't been doing in the games we've been losing," Letestu said of the PP resurgence. "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."
Three of Letestu's four goals this season have come in Winnipeg, all on special teams, as he picked up the game-winning shorthanded marker during Edmonton's 3-0 Heritage Classic victory on Oct. 23. Draisaitl's goal and assist in the opening 40 minutes gave him at least a point in seven of the last nine games, as well as 19 points on the season.
Patrick Maroon padded the Oilers lead at 11:43 of the middle frame, putting a harmless-looking shot on net from the left-wing boards. The puck deflected off defenceman Paul Postma's stick and past Hellebuyck to give the Big Rig his seventh goal and 11th point of the campaign. Zack Kassian and Letestu picked up the helpers.
Winnipeg's power play was also effective on Thursday, scoring for the second time just 1:44 into the third period with the Oilers attempting to kill off a pair of minors. Dustin Byfuglien slid a pass over to Laine for another patented one-timer blast that gave the rookie his 15th goal of the season, putting him just one back of Crosby for the league lead.
The Oilers weren't intimidated by the sudden one-goal game, as they rattled off two more tallies from Draisaitl and Benoit Pouliot. Draisaitl corralled a rebound at the side of the net and executed a brilliant spin-o-rama move for his second of the game, ninth of the season and 20th point, while Pouliot deflected a Sekera point shot, prompting the Jets to replace Hellebuyck with Michael Hutchinson.
"That's huge for our team," Draisaitl said of the third-period response. "In the past, a lot of times we would have folded and maybe lost that game, especially getting scored on early in the period. But we really stood our ground and I thought we played really solid after that. And then we got rewarded with a couple goals. That's a huge win for our team."
Hutchinson was perfect in his brief stint, but the Oilers weren't giving up any more either. Talbot finished the night with 22 saves for his 12th victory.
McDavid's three assists gave him 34 points on the season, cementing his spot as the NHL's top offensive player. The captain also has 15 points during his red-hot seven-game point streak.
The Oilers return to Rogers Place this weekend for a rare home back-to-back, hosting the Pacific Division rival Anaheim Ducks on Saturday and the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.