WINNIPEG – A young and talented Edmonton Oilers squad has come into Winnipeg and made the Jets look slow.
What was true 30 years ago bore fruit once again Thursday night, as the Oilers outclassed Winnipeg 6-3.
Leon Draisaitl and Mark Letestu each scored twice for Edmonton while Connor McDavid had three assists. Patrik Laine paced the Jets with two power-play goals.
The game got off to a promising start for Winnipeg, as Bryan Little scored his first goal since February just 35 seconds in.
After Letestu evened the score just two minutes later on the power-play, Laine restored the lead with a one-timer blast from the point. The Jets led 2-1 after one despite being outshot 13-5.
In the second, the visitors took over. Draisaitl tied it up on the power play before Letestu gave the Oilers the lead with another power-goal. At that point, Edmonton was 3/3, and they never looked back, though Winnipeg tried to make things interesting.
Facing a 4-2 deficit to start the third, Laine scored a near carbon-copy of his first goal to cut the lead to one.
But Draisaitl restored the two-goal lead, and 20 seconds later Beniot Pouliot’s tip-in marker chased Connor Hellebuyck from the crease. Michael Hutchinson finished the game, his first action since a 4-1 loss in Boston November 19.
“We did not check hard tonight. We weren’t physical by any means,” head coach Paul Maurice explains after the loss. “Three goals are a function of the 5-on-5 game. We didn’t defend hard enough or quick enough. Pucks to our net, we’re late getting back to them and they’re banging in the rebounds.”
The loss ends Winnipeg’s five-game win streak at the MTS Centre. Captain Blake Wheeler admits they gave the high-flying Oilers too much space to operate.
“They definitely have some firepower. We gave them too much respect. We were just giving them too much ice, and players of that calibre are going to make you pay.”
The Jets will now take a quick two-game road trip but it will be a daunting one, as they will face the Blues and Blackhawks on back-to-back days on the weekend. Their matchup in St. Louis starts at 6 p.m. Saturday.