WINNIPEG, MB - The Oilers are looking to close out their four-game road trip with six of a possible eight points as they visit the Winnipeg Jets tonight at MTS Centre.
Edmonton started its trek with two strong efforts, downing the Buffalo Sabres in 2-1 in overtime on Tuesday and blanking the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 on Thursday. They had a setback in Columbus the following night, losing 6-3 to the Blue Jackets, so they’ll be looking to bounce back in a big way tonight against the Jets.
The Oilers had the disadvantage of playing the second night of a back-to-back on Friday in Columbus, but tonight the shoe will be on the other foot as Winnipeg hosted the Montreal Canadiens last night. The Jets did post a 4-2 win on the strength of a Mark Scheifele hat-trick, but the Oil will look to use their fresher legs to gain the upper hand.
“Be a little pesky and get on them and try to get them off their game,” said newly-acquired defenceman Adam Pardy. “They’re big, fast and strong, so we need to match their intensity right from the start.”
Simplicity will be the Oilers key to success tonight as they reach the conclusion of a long road trip.
“We just need to play a simple road game,” said fellow newcomer Patrick Maroon, who has a goal and two assists in two games since Monday’s trade from the Anaheim Ducks. “No turnovers, just try to compete hard… It’s the last game of the trip. We’ve been doing some good things and we just have to continue that.”
Tonight’s game is the rubber match of the Canadian clubs’ three-game season series, though the Oilers have acquired three of a possible four points thus far.
Edmonton defeated Winnipeg 3-1 on Dec. 21 in the final game before the Christmas break, as the now-defunct line of Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl and Teddy Purcell generated all three goals, and Cam Talbot made 44 saves in net.
The teams squared off again at Rexall Place on Feb. 13, with the visitors earning a 2-1 shootout victory. Matt Hendricks scored a shorthanded goal and Laurent Brossoit made 32 saves. Blake Wheeler scored in regulation and again in the shootout for the Jets.
SOMETHING TO PROVE
Pardy is one Oilers player who's particularly excited for tonight’s matchup, as the opponent will be a very familiar one.
The veteran blueliner played 115 regular season games for Winnipeg during the previous two seasons, but he was limited to just 14 this year before the team placed him on waivers one week ago. The Oilers claimed him and immediately inserted him into their lineup. As expected, Pardy has something to prove tonight.
“It’s going to be fun,” said the 31-year-old from Bonavista, Nfld. “It’s always nice to come back right away and show the team that let you go that you can play. It’s always a little more excitement, a little more intensity. It’s definitely easy to get up for these games.”
Pardy has played 20-plus minutes in three straight games since joining the Oilers, and he’s also on a two-game point streak with assists in Philadelphia and Columbus.
Here’s how the full Oilers lineup is expected to look tonight:
Season series: The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets have split their first two games, each of which was played at Rexall Place. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec made 21 saves in Winnipeg's 2-1 shootout victory Feb. 11. Edmonton goaltender Cam Talbot made 44 saves and Taylor Hall had three assists in a 3-1 win Dec. 21.
Oilers team scope: Defenseman Adam Pardy will play against his former team after being acquired on waivers from Winnipeg on Feb. 29. "It was a tough [season] personally for me with the way things went there," Pardy said, according to the Oilers website. "It's going to be a treat. I'm glad I get a chance to play them in my first week, especially getting a few games under my belt and getting comfortable here with the system, the players and the coaches. I'm excited for Sunday. I can't wait to go out there." Coach Todd McLellan has not named a starting goaltender for the finale of a four-game trip. The Oilers won the first two games before losing 6-3 at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
Jets team scope: Defenseman Jacob Trouba may play after missing a 4-2 home win against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday because of an upper-body injury. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has a career-high eight-game point streak (one goal, seven assists). Center Mark Scheifele has five goals in his past two games and had his first NHL hat trick Saturday. Coach Paul Maurice has not confirmed a starting goaltender; Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson have alternated the past five starts, with Pavelec playing Saturday. The Jets are 1-1-1 on a five-game homestand that ends against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.