Edmonton's next game is the Hockeyville game in Vernon, BC on Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings. The game can be seen on Sportsnet nationwide starting at 7:00 PM MDT.
"It was a special teams game where we just dropped the ball," said Oilers veteran Matt Hendricks. "Our penalty kill wasn't where it needs to be, not by any means. Not even remotely close."
"(PK) hasn't been a strength early, whether it's just little reads or making big errors," added fellow vet Mark Letestu. "We're working through some things right now. It's not just young guys, it's veteran guys… it'll come around, but it's definitely an area of concern."
While the players were critical of their PK performance, Head Coach Todd McLellan noted the penalties that led to the goals against were equally detrimental.
"There's two parts to the penalty kill," he said. "The penalties we took, I wasn't happy with. A number of them in the offensive zone, lazy, slashing, hooking penalties… Tonight it led to poor penalty killing."
The opening five minutes of play saw the ice tilted in the Oilers favour, with the line of Jujhar Khaira, Drake Caggiula and Kris Versteeg generating several scoring chances, in addition to some sustained pressure courtesy Mark Letestu, Matt Hendricks and Zack Kassian. The Jets withstood the pressure, however, keeping the game scoreless.
A Benoit Pouliot tripping penalty sent the home team to the power play, and Adam Lowry got the puck in front before chipping a shot that snuck under Cam Talbot's arm to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead at 8:39 of the frame.
The Oilers got a PP of their own shortly thereafter, but a Matt Benning interference penalty negated the man advantage. Edmonton nearly killed it off, but with just three seconds left, Joel Armia snuck behind the defence and Mark Scheifele found him with a pass, which he took, deked to his backhand and roofed to make it 2-0.
Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson turned aside all 11 Oilers attempts he faced in the opening stanza, as the visitors led the shot count 11-8.
The power-play onslaught continued for the Jets in the middle frame. A Drake Caggiula slashing minor sent the Oilers back to the PK, and Toby Enstrom floated a wrist shot from the point that found its way through heavy traffic and past Talbot to give the home side a commanding 3-0 cushion just 2:53 into the second.
Winnipeg almost made it 4-0 shortly thereafter as Brandon Tanev burst down the left side, put a shot on Talbot and whacked his rebound into the net out of mid-air. The referee immediately deemed the goal was scored with a high stick, though, and the Oilers were still down by three.
Dustin Byfuglien took out Oscar Klefbom with an elbow to send the Oilers back on the PP midway through the frame, but they were unable to convert. Shortly after the big Jets d-man emerged from the penalty box, Hendricks challenged him to a fight and a scrum that also involved Zack Kassian erupted in the corner, sending four players to the sin bin.
"He plays the game hard and I like that brand of hockey, but I didn't like how that play happened," Hendricks said of Byfuglien's high hit on Klefbom.
Not long after the melee, Klefbom, no worse for wear from the earlier hit, jumped up on the Oilers forecheck, stole the puck behind the Jets net and wrapped it around past Hutchinson to get the visitors on the board with 4:20 to go in the period.
Three PPGs wasn't quite enough for the Jets, though, as they added one more in the third on a bullet wrist shot by Scheifele, who later set up Kyle Connor for a one-timer to round out their victory.
Hutchinson was sharp all night between the Winnipeg pipes, turning aside 33 of the 34 shots the Oilers fired at him.
The Oilers preseason schedule continues on Sunday as they travel to the northern Okanagan for the Kraft Hockeyville game against the Los Angeles Kings. The small town of Lumby, BC is the official host of the event, though the game itself (7pm MT, Sportsnet) will be played at Kal Tire Place in nearby Vernon.
Coach McLellan said many players will have to step up their games as preseason rolls along if they hope to crack the roster for opening night.
"Some guys just aren't getting it done," he said. "You give them another opportunity, another opportunity and pretty soon that lifeline is all used up."