The Edmonton Oilers had a valiant late-game comeback but two second-period goals were enough to hand them a 3-2 defeat to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
"It just goes to show you that you're never out of the fight," said head coach Dallas Eakins. "I liked our first period, I thought we were slow and almost unfit in the second period and then in the third we shook up the lines and rewarded some people and pushed some people down and we got a spark again."
With the home side already up 2-0 and 4:25 remaining in the third period, Anthony Peluso swooped in to pick up a loose puck at the top of the Oilers crease and banged it past Bachman to extend the Jets lead to three goals. After that, the Oilers started to make the game interesting.
Less than a minute after the Peluso goal, Mitch Moroz scored for Edmonton to make it a two-goal game once again. Philip Larsen threaded a pass to the left post where Moroz was stationed. Moroz redirected it in for the goal and made it 3-1.
23 seconds later, the Oilers struck again to make it a one-goal deficit. Behind the Jets net, Nail Yakupov leapt over the stick of a Winnipeg defender before dishing it in front to Larsen. The blueliner made no mistake, flicking it past Pavelec for the goal.
"It's an interesting game. Once you think it's going to go one way, it suddenly starts going another," stated Eakins.
When asked if he could read a lot out of one pre-season game, the head coach said no question he could.
"I read a lot into it. There was some good out there. There was some bad. There was some people we expect more of and some people that were surprising," he said. "Bachman was great in net. He had a real good game. We know he's a good goalie but when he puts on a performance like that you're definitely encouraged. I thought (Philip) Larsen played a real solid game as well."
Winnipeg was pressing early in the middle frame. Devin Setoguchi was skating down the left side and moved into a prime scoring position but Denis Grebeshkov made a nice move to knock the puck off his stick and preserve what was a 0-0 draw at that point, four minutes into the second.
Several minutes later, the Oilers had some sustained pressure in the Jets zone, cycling the puck around the zone for over a minute but were unable to get a prime scoring opportunity. Jeff Petry particularly did a good job keeping the puck in the zone on several occasions.
The Jets started to take control of the game just a few shifts later. The pressure deep in the Oilers zone resulted in a Linus Omark penalty, putting Winnipeg on the power play for the second time on the night.
Just over a minute into the man advantage, Michael Frolik skated in on the left wing and put the puck on net. It was poked away by Richard Bachman. Eric Tangradi jumped on the rebound before the puck spilled back to Frolik and his shot beat Bachman for the goal and make it 1-0.
Winnipeg doubled their lead four minutes later. Tangradi took the puck behind the Edmonton net then spied Carl Klingberg in the slot. Klingberg made no mistake, rifling it past Bachman to double the Jets lead.
Early in the third, Gagner spotted Yakupov breaking through the neutral zone. Yakupov skated in on the left wing and fired a shot that was turned away by Pavelec.
Severak minutes later, Julian Melchiori covered up the puck in front of the Jets net and received two minutes for delay of game for his efforts. However, a penalty to Jesse Joensuu for interference negated the Edmonton man advantage a minute after that.
In the first period, the Oilers had a couple of power plays after Jets penalties to O'Dell and Setoguchi but they were unable to convert. Late in the opening frame, a Brandon Davidson penalty gave the Jets their first five-on-four advantage but they weren't able to score either.
The best scoring chance during the Davidson penalty in fact went to Edmonton. A turnover at the blueline gave Sam Gagner a two-on-one with Ryan Jones. Gagner elected to backhand it and the puck just skipped by the post and wide behind Jets starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
Gagner continued his strong play on his next shift and made a nice no-look pass over to Nail Yakupov in the slot. Yakupov's shot just missed the mark.
Shots on goal after one period were 10-8 for the Jets and 26-16 Winnipeg after 40 minutes.