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RECAP: Oilers 2, Jets 1

by Ryan Frankson / Edmonton Oilers

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The Oilers return home to host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday at 7 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
WINNIPEG, MB – Lauri Korpikoski’s second-period goal held up as the game-winner and Cam Talbot made 39 saves as the Oilers concluded a strong road trip with a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Edmonton won three of its four games away from home, closing out the trip with the resilient win over the Jets after previous wins over the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers.

“It was a good back-and-forth game and a gutsy win by us,” said Talbot, who now has a scorching .967 save percentage in his last six games, in which the Oilers have secured nine of a possible 12 points. “Luckily for me, it’s going in the right direction right now and I’m going to try to keep it going for as long as I can.”

“It’s almost becoming routine for him, and I don’t mean the effort’s easy by any means,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said of the red-hot goalie. “The results of him being a wall back there and giving us an opportunity to scratch and claw for wins has been pretty impressive… We feel we’ve got a really good one there.”

The opening frame was a tale of two periods, with the Oilers generating most of their scoring chances in the first half and the Jets finding their groove later on. Both Talbot and Ondrej Pavelec stood their ground, though, with Edmonton and Winnipeg going goal-less through 20 minutes on their seven shots apiece.

Edmonton’s best scoring chance of the opening frame came courtesy Connor McDavid on yet another breakaway, as the rookie’s rocket-like bursts of speed have sent him in alone on opposing goaltenders often this season. Pavelec denied him this time around, though, as McDavid deked to his backhand but the goalie snagged it in his glove.

The Oilers suffered a major blow to their back end late in the frame, as hulking Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien crashed into him on a drive to the net. Not only did Byfuglien’s stick catch the blueliner in the facial area, leading to an Oilers power play, Davidson’s knee appeared to be injured on the collision and he had to be helped off the ice.

During the first intermission, it was confirmed Davidson would not return to the game. Coach McLellan said following the game the injury “is not looking good” but Davidson will be further assessed by medical personnel once the team is back in Edmonton on Monday.

Down to five defencemen, the Oilers weathered the storm in the middle frame and emerged with the game’s first goal at 5:25. Taylor Hall secured the puck in the corner on a pass from Leon Draisaitl, drove towards the net and fed a perfect pass to a streaking Patrick Maroon, who roofed a shot over Pavelec.

“We’re finding some chemistry together, and it’s been working,” Maroon said of his line. “I’ve been telling them to just get pucks deep and go to work… We’re too big and strong. Once we get down there, good things can happen for us. Especially with Leon and Hallsy’s skill, I’ll muck it up, go to the front of the net and hopefully good things happen.”

It was Maroon’s second goal and fourth point in just his 11th period for the Oilers after getting traded from the Anaheim Ducks last Monday. Hall, meanwhile, picked up his team-leading 57th point with the helper, and Draisaitl kept pace in second behind his linemate with his 46th point, thanks to the other assist.

Continuing an unfortunate trend from Friday night’s loss in Columbus, the Oilers surrendered a retaliatory goal just 51 seconds later, as Mark Scheifele one-timed his sixth goal in three games to make it 1-1. All three of Edmonton’s goals against the Blue Jackets were followed almost immediately with a reply from the home side.

They snapped that streak on their second goal at the 16:20 mark, though, as Korpikoski scored for the second time in three games to make it 2-1. Andrej Sekera got the puck in the high slot and darted to the net, putting a shot on Pavelec, who coughed up a rebound that was hammered home by the big Finn for his eighth goal of the season.

“The last few games I’ve been able to find the net,” Korpikoski said. “You need some good plays by your teammates, and I was able to capitalize today… We’re happy to get the goal and the win.”

The Oilers locked down their defence in the third and Talbot was perfect for the final 20. Winnipeg outshot Edmonton 40-31 in a losing cause. His team may have been outshot, but Talbot said their ability to limit second-chances opportunities was integral to the win.

“We did a heck of a job of clearing out the rebounds and not letting their big bodies get to them,” he said.

The Oilers are essentially four-sixths of the way through a six-game road trip, as they’ll return to Edmonton for one game on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks before hitting the road again to play the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Then, finally, they can settle back into the friendly confines of Rexall Place for five in a row.
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