On Sunday night, Winnipeg hosted Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers for the first of a two-game set as a part of the team’s season-long seven-game homestand at Bell MTS Place. Coming into the contest, Winnipeg had won three-straight, outscoring its opponents 14-3 in the process. Wearing Aviator Blue for the first time in 2020-21, the home team was looking for its fifth win of the season in just its sixth game.
The Oilers, however, had a different game plan. Despite falling behind, the visitors pulled back ahead, and despite squandering the lead late in the third period, Edmonton came back in the most dramatic of ways, taking both points on Sunday by way of a last-second buzzer-beater.
“There’s no excuses,” Nikolaj Ehlers said post-game. “We were behind and we battled our way back and didn’t end up getting the two points. The way we played today, we deserved at least a point. That sucks but we’ve got a game in two days and we want to get those two points so we’re gonna look forward now.”
The Jets led the charge offensively in the opening frame, scoring two goals but only being credited for one. Just 2:47 after Adam Lowry potted his third of the season off a slick behind-the-net feed from linemate Mathieu Perreault, Andrew Copp thought he had his third tally of the season. However, a lengthy Dave Tippett goaltender interference challenge took the Jets’ second goal of the period off the scoreboard.
It was determined that Copp’s stick made contact with goaltender Mikko Koskinen’s glove prior to the puck crossing the goal line. Despite seeing a late-period holding call on captain Blake Wheeler, the Jets did manage to maintain a significant lead in the shot department, going up 16-9 through 20 minutes of play.
“Honestly, sometimes those I just feel like you flip a coin and see how it comes out,” Lowry said. “I don’t see a whole lot on that, I feel like we’ve had ones where there’s more contact against us… They must have seen something that stopped Koskinen’s ability to make the save so. They make that ruling and we just have to regroup from there. I think we did a good job finishing the first period strong. I don’t see that we let that affect us negatively, it’s unfortunate though because Copper had a heck of a first period and really deserved that one.”
The second period was a very different story, as the Oilers came out of the gate with gumption. Scoring just 21 seconds into the frame, Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins knotted the game up at ones off the get-go. Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi picked up assists on The Nuge’s third goal of the season. Including Nugent-Hopkins’ marker, Edmonton put up the first seven shots of the period, before pulling ahead 13-2 by the midway point of the middle stanza.
Under fire for the better part of the frame, Winnipeg fell behind the visitors on Edmonton’s 16th shot of the period, as Kyle Turris found his first goal as an Oiler with 5:42 to play. In the period, Edmonton outshot Winnipeg 19-6 and had 33 shot attempts, as compared to the Jets’ 10. Through 40 minutes, the visitors led 2-1 on the scoreboard and overtook the home team 28-22 in shots.
The third period saw Winnipeg tilt the ice back the other direction, evening the shot count by the midway point. It took until the jumbotron read 6:06 left in the period for Nikolaj Ehlers to tie the game. A great heads-up feed from Paul Stastny put the puck on the stick of Ehlers, who blasted it past Mikko Koskinen five-hole. But just moments after the goal, Oilers’ defenceman Darnell Nurse took a tripping penalty, which led to Winnipeg’s third goal of the game.
Mark Scheifele found Blake Wheeler down below Edmonton’s goal-line, who out-waited a sprawling Oiler defenceman and ended up banking the puck off Kris Russell and into the net. That lead, however, was short-lived. With a delayed penalty coming against the Jets, Connor McDavid found Kailer Yamamoto backdoor, who knotted the game up at threes with 3:05 to play.
Although narrowly escaping a late-game Dylan DeMelo high-sticking infraction, the Oilers walked away with a 4-3 victory as Draisaitl put one past Brossoit on a buzzer-beater from the slot on a pass from McDavid with 0:07 left in the game. After thoroughly examining the clock it was determined that the puck crossed the line before the final buzzer sounded.
“The real positive for the game is our third,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “It’s five in seven and we were afforded the opportunity to play until midnight last night. To come out and find that in the tank, I was really impressed with that. A real good push and confident group going into the third and put up 16 (shots on goal) and could of had a bunch more. So, it’s a brutal way to end the game, for sure. But I will be left with how hard they pushed in the third. When you play a home game and you don’t get settled down until 2 in the morning and you play another one at 8 o’clock, we played hard and I’m really pleased with that.”
Following the loss Jets’ netminder Laurent Brossoit saw his record drop to 1-1-0 in turning aside 34 of 38 Oilers shots in the game. At the other end of the ice, Mikko Koskinen stopped 35 of the 38 pucks fired his way.
The two teams will meet again on Tuesday at 7:00 PM central from Bell MTS Place, where the Jets will look to avenge for Sunday’s loss. Following the second of two-straight vs. Edmonton, Winnipeg will host Vancouver on Saturday evening before beginning a string of four-straight games against Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames.