Jets stifle Oilers’ slick superstar in 5-2 win

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The Winnipeg Jets showed Tuesday night they still possess just enough kryptonite to weaken Connor McDavid.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/11/2021 (447 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Jets showed Tuesday night they still possess just enough kryptonite to weaken Connor McDavid.

Rendering the NHL’s version of Superman powerless at even strength with a sound defensive scheme, the Jets also brandished plenty of firepower to post a 5-2 triumph over McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the visiting Edmonton Oilers supporting crew.

Draisaitl whacked in a pair of power-play goals, his league-leading 16th and 17th tallies of the season, early in the final frame to chop the Jets’ 4-0 lead in half. But Kyle Connor sailed a shot from centre into the open cage with 97 seconds left in the game — his team-leading 12th goal — to seal the deal.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck makes a save as Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi looks for a rebound during the second period Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

Pierre-Luc Dubois, who redirected a Josh Morrissey pass behind Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen to boost the hosts’ second-period lead to 3-0, said corralling McDavid is an enormous task.

“There’s no hiding what he wants to do out there. There’s no hiding his tendencies,” said Dubois, whose ninth goal in 15 games eclipsed the eight he collected in 41 games a year ago. “You know it’s going to be a big challenge, but the hard part is it’s 60 minutes, he never stops skating out there. He’s always moving.”

His line of Blake Wheeler and Connor drew the tough assignment of matching up with McDavid’s trio.

“You always have to have your head up for him, even when you’re in the offensive zone. It’s a good challenge, but when you get a big win like that, it feels even better.”

Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck was dynamite, stopping 32 shots to help the Jets (9-3-3) vault into top spot in the Central Division, a point up on the Minnesota Wild (10-6-0). The Oilers fall to 11-4-0.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen makes a save on Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele during the first period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

The Jets led 1-0 after 20 minutes and bolted to a 4-0 advantage after 40 minutes.

Winnipeg also received goals from Nikolaj Ehlers, his fourth, Mark Scheifele, with his second, and Adam Lowry, also with his second, to put a nifty bow on a protracted seven-game stretch at home, going 5-1-1.

Lowry opened the scoring just 2:09 into the game with an innocuous wrist shot from well out that squeezed through starting goalie Mikko Koskinen, dropped down and rolled over the line, seemingly in slow motion.

McDavid has been a beast against the Jets since he debuted in 2015, compiling 10 goals and 41 points in 23 meetings prior to Tuesday’s meeting. A year ago in the all-Canadian division, he scored seven times while adding 15 assists.

But the Jets held him to four points (one goal, three assists) in a 2021 first-round playoff sweep. And he was held in check in their most recent battle, save for the few minutes the Oilers spent free-wheeling on the power play.

Winnipeg Jets' Brenden Dillon checks Edmonton Oilers' Brendan Perlini during the first period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

Dubois praised his team for the thorough performance.

“We did a really good job defending as a unit of five. Bucky was amazing tonight. I thought we did really good things defensively,” he said.

Hellebuyck, now 6-0-3 in his last nine starts, robbed Jesse Puljujarvi — left alone on the doorstep — with about five minutes left to maintain a two-goal cushion.

“They try that play quite a bit, go around the net and put it back-door side, so I was aware, I got my eyes on it,” Hellebuyck explained. “He got in tight and all I had to do was smother his area. He kind of leaned into it and it was a quick read for me. There’s only so many holes that he can hit…”

McDavid set up Draisaitl twice, the first coming with both Andrew Copp and Logan Stanley in the sin bin. Draisaitl, on the receiving end of a boarding infraction by defenceman Stanley, one-timed a McDavid pass just six seconds into a two-man advantage.

Winnipeg Jets' Pierre-Luc Dubois scores on Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen during the second period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

His second goal, just over a minute later, wasn’t nearly as clear cut.

The official on the spot waved it off, feeling Hellebuyck’s movement was impeded by Puljujarvi, however, Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett’s challenge was successful, as video determined Adam Lowry shoved the Finn into the Jets’ premier puckstopper.

Hellebuyck clearly didn’t agree with the ruling.

“His initial read was right. Maybe if I had a chance to move or if Puljujarvi — I think is the guy who got knocked into me — he definitely got pushed a little bit but he sold it and then he stayed,” he said. “That’s my problem, he didn’t try to get out.”

The Oilers’ momentum was quelled when McDavid launched a flying elbow at Neal Pionk behind the Jets net and paid for it at 12:15, although the official called it roughing.

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers celebrates his goal against the Edmonton Oilers with Andrew Copp and Mark Scheifele during the second period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

Jets coach Paul Maurice referenced the stalwart play of rugged blue-liner Brenden Dillon as emblematic of his club’s collective will. One shift, in particular, featured a pair of solid hits and a sprawling leg save with Hellebuyck caught out of position.

“The value of a big chunk of your team will not be in the statistics, goals or assists. But (Dillon’s) value in a game like tonight, those four guys (Dillon, Pionk, Morrissey and Nate Schmidt) played exceptionally well against an exceptionally offensive team and they are all slightly different,” said Maurice.

“(Dillon) brings a physical piece to that and has changed our back end and the way it looks. It matters that all the (blue-liners) aren’t the same. We don’t want everybody’s game to be based on how well they move tonight. Because it’s going to come to your corners and come to your walls and it’s going to come net front and then you need men to do that.”

The Jets leave for a pair of games on consecutive nights out west, with a rematch against the Oilers on Thursday (8 p.m. CT) and a meeting in Vancouver with the struggling Canucks (9 p.m. CT).

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Winnipeg Jets' Neal Pionk falls to the ice after being hit by Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid during the third period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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Updated on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 11:16 PM CST: Adds photos

Updated on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 11:29 PM CST: Adds photos

Updated on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 11:43 PM CST: Updates story to final version.

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