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Jets Hang On, Snap Streak in High-Scoring Affair with Edmonton

Photos by Scott Stroh

Jets Hang On, Snap Streak in High-Scoring Affair with Edmonton

The Winnipeg Jets have won a hockey game.

For the first time since February 20th – and just the second time in nine appearances – the Jets managed to walk away with a full two points at the final buzzer.

Facing off for the second time in just 22 hours, the Jets and Edmonton Oilers went to town in a Western Conference battle just above the 49th parallel.

And this one was significantly more competitive than the opening game of the home-and-home.

“I’m very happy with the response from the team to how we played last night,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said post-game. “We had to make some lineup changes, and I thought the whole team responded very well. I think it’s more based on the disappointment of yesterday and we bounced back tonight.”

After the hometown Oilers crushed their guests at Rogers Place on Friday night, the Jets responded in a big way on Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.

The game featured a whopping 12 goals, including a span of eight minutes in the second period that saw six combined goals. It was an absolutely wild second period, and significantly more entertaining than Friday’s affair.

Trade deadline acquisition Vladislav Namestnikov made his debut for Winnipeg and recorded an assist in the process.

“He was awesome,” Morrissey said of his new teammate. “Any time I’ve played against him in the past, he’s got skill, he’s pesky, he plays hard and gets in there. He’s pretty gritty and I thought he played that way today, made some nice plays with the puck. I’m sure it’s not the easiest in that scenario, when you get in late and we didn’t have a morning skate today. Mostly guys met him at 3:30 this afternoon. That’s never an easy thing, new equipment and all that. I thought he played great and it’s a big addition.”

Although the game began much like how Friday’s ended, Winnipeg managed to maintain its composure and rally for a strong responsive first period, en route to the 7-5 home victory, snapping its five-game losing streak in the process.

Leon Draisaitl got things going for Edmonton just 1:43 into Saturday’s matchup. With Blake Wheeler in the box on a weak hooking call, the Oilers wasted little time capitalizing on the man advantage. Draisaitl put his 39th past Connor Hellebuyck just 13 seconds into the power play, giving the visitors a quick lead.

But Winnipeg responded with two goals as veterans Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey scored to give the Jets a lead heading into the first intermission.

“It was unfortunate,” Bowness added. “It was a turnover, then we take a penalty and they score right away. So that’s fine. But the most important thing with that is how you respond. And we responded much better tonight than we did last night. That’s what made me very happy. Did we want to take the penalty early and give up that goal? No. But the most important thing from that is how you respond from that and our team responded very, very well. That was a gutty effort after that so I’m very happy with that.”

The second period was one for the books – the stat books, that is – as the teams put up seven goals, with Winnipeg scoring four times and Edmonton adding three.

In the process, Draisaitl completed his hat trick, while the Jets responded with Adam Lowry’s first goal in 35 games. Just moments later, Kyle Capobianco got his second of the season, before Morrissey beat Jack Campbell for his second of the game on a last-second buzzer beater, which gave Winnipeg a 6-4 lead through 40 minutes.

“Honestly, it was huge,” Lowry said of snapping his lengthy drought. “The longer that thing goes on, the more you think about it and the more ways it just starts affecting other parts of your game. It’s nice to get that out of the way. (Morgan Barron) snapped his slump as well. Nice to get a little secondary scoring and get back into the win column.”

Somehow both Hellebuyck and Campbell came back out for the third period, despite their atrocious save percentages.

Deadline day acquisition Nick Bjugstad got his first as an Oiler just three minutes into the third period. The play was one of those ‘follow the bouncing puck’ drills, which landed perfectly on the newcomer’s stick at the top of the crease. He calmly tapped the game’s 11th goal into the net, bringing the visitors back to within one.

Somehow, it was the Oilers’ final gaol of the game, as Edmonton could not muster up another tally, despite pulling Campbell for the extra attacker late. Some key blocks and critical defending helped Winnipeg to its first win in what felt like forever. Dylan DeMelo added a long-range bank-shot empty-netter with 34 seconds to go to seal it for the Jets.

Edmonton scored twice the power play, while the Jets had the one Morrissey strike on a man advantage of their own. Winnipeg finished ahead in shots (39-35), while doubling the Oilers in hits.

Hellebuyck made 30 saves on 35 Oilers shots, and picked up his 27th win of the season, while Campbell only stopped 32 of Winnipeg’s 38 shots, and was handed his ninth loss of the year.

Saturday’s battle was the first of a three-game homestand in Winnipeg, as the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild come to town for some more Western Conference fun. The Sharks will do battle with the Jets on Monday night, while Wednesday will feature a Central Division battle, with both games set to get underway at 6:30 PM central time. They can both be viewed live on Sportsnet.

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com or on Twitter at @GameOnHockey.

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