Three-straight goals by the Oilers in the second period spurred them to a 3-2 comeback win over the Jets in Winnipeg.
The Oilers caught a break at 12:11 of the first period. Jordan Eberle’s hook on Evander Kane led to a penalty shot, but Kane hit the post and that kept the game scoreless for the moment.
That didn’t last long as Winnipeg took the first lead of the game just a few minutes later.
T.J. Galiardi sprang loose behind the Oilers defence and Will O’Neill hit him in stride for a breakaway. Galiardi went top shelf on goaltender Laurent Brossoit to give the Jets a 1-0 lead at 14:09 of the first period.
Matt Halischuk made it 2-0 just 1:11 into the second period on the power play. A Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hooking call at 19:18 of the first put the Oilers down a man to start the second. Halischuk rifled a snap shot over the glove of Brossoit.
“We got down pretty early 2-0 and obviously, it’s always pretty hard to come back from a 2-0 deficit,” Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl said. “I think we battled back real well, we kept it easier, we didn’t turn the puck over as much in the second half and then we started getting odd-man rushes and we capitalized on them. I think the second half of the game was really good.”
The Oilers got within one goal at 10:48 of the second period. Eberle fed Nugent-Hopkins on the wing and the Oilers centre buried a shot from the face-off dot past Michael Hutchinson.
Nugent-Hopkins worked hard over the summer to bulk up and prepare himself for the upcoming season. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said the team’s top-line centre also prepared mentally.
“He understands his role,” Eakins said. “He knows he’s our number one centre, that’s who he is. He understands that and I feel like he’s taken a step every day to really lead this team. We’re going to need him every night, he understands his importance and I think he enjoys that weight on his shoulders.”
Edmonton tied the game up with 3:57 left in the second, courtesy of two of the team’s three Russian players suited up for the game. Vladimir Tkachev found Bogdan Yakimov on a 2-on-1 rush against Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey. The big Russian centre Yakimov buried it to tie the game at two.
The Oilers took the lead in the final seconds of the middle frame. Yakimov picked up his second point of the night as he passed the puck to Tkachev from the blue line. Tkachev got his second assist when he found defenceman Justin Schultz, who was jumping up in the play late, and the defenceman went bar down on Hutchinson from the slot. The goal came with just 8.8 seconds left in the second.
Offensively, those three goals was all the Oilers would need to earn the comeback victory. The third period rested on the shoulders of their defence and goalie.
The Oilers killed off a key penalty at 11:40 of the third period, not allowing the Jets to use the man advantage to tie the game.
Brossoit made 17 of 19 saves in net before giving way to Ty Rimmer for the third period.
“I just tried to keep myself in the game in the first and the second, watching the play and watching some of the shooters and stuff,” Rimmer said. “I was just staying involved with stuff like that. Once I got in, it was just a quick warmup and then it’s game on.”
Rimmer shut the Jets out for the remainder of the game to seal the victory. His eight saves included some scrambles in close to the net, making it an impressive finish to the game for the goaltender.
“That’s always kind of been my game. I’m a battler, I’m never going to give up on a puck or an opportunity that fits,” he said. “To play with the Oilers in an exhibition is an awesome opportunity for me and I’m looking to prove myself obviously.”