Jets continue to win while searching for their ‘best game’

Josh Morrissey scored 41 seconds into overtime to give the Winnipeg Jets a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

WINNIPEG — Josh Morrissey had just sent Bell MTS Place into a tizzy after ripping the overtime winner under the glove of Cam Talbot, and then the defenceman pointed out a little something about his Winnipeg Jets.

“I think we still haven’t found our absolute best game,” Morrissey said, shoeless and from beneath the brim of a Jets ball cap, following a 5-4 win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers. “We had high aspirations for ourselves, and we wanted to come in and build off last season.”

Well, maybe these Jets aren’t feeling like they’re at their finest just yet, but they sure are still finding ways to win, just like they did Thursday, and even after blowing a 3-1 lead. Winnipeg has now won eight of its last 11, this latest victory coming against an Oilers team that was riding a hot streak of its own, winners of seven of its last 10.

While Oilers captain Connor McDavid registered his whopping 300th career point Thursday night, the Jets spoiled the party.

And boy oh boy, did No. 97 ever come close to winning this thing, just after overtime began: McDavid came tearing down the ice after the opening faceoff, and he ripped one off the post.

“I mean, a lot of skilled players on the ice in overtime, obviously,” Morrissey said, with a laugh.

It was Morrissey, 23, from Calgary, who deflected McDavid’s next attempt on net, and then he chipped the puck up the wall. McDavid swung to his left and Morrissey took off up the left wing, while captain Blake Wheeler got the puck to Mark Scheifele, who dished it to the author of the game winner.

The decision to take off up the ice wasn’t tough when he saw Wheeler take possession, Morrissey said. “When you’re playing with those guys, they’re gonna find you. That’s kind of how I saw it, and it’s nice to get that one.”

It was, especially since the Jets blew a two-goal lead. As head coach Paul Maurice put it, it was “an unusual game,” and “more of a slog up and down the ice.”

The Oilers got on the board first, halfway through the opening frame, on a one-timer from Ryan Spooner, but the Jets answered with two of their own before the end of the period. Winnipeg first cashed in on a power play – Mathieu Perreault and his long brown locks cruised across the ice, then he fired a backhand top shelf — and then just over a minute later, a Nikolaj Ehlers intended pass deflected off a skate and in.

Patrik Laine made it 3-1 in the second, and you could tell the Finn was about to score his first of December and his 22nd of the season, just a couple seconds before it happened. Laine, who torched November with 18 goals in 12 games, hadn’t scored in his last six. But the drought (it’s all relative, right?) ended when Dustin Byfuglien fired a pass to Laine, who was wide open in the slot. And just like that, it was 3-1, Jets.

That lead wouldn’t last, though. Darnell Nurse cut it to two after a McDavid-led rush saw the puck knock in off Nurse’s skate, then Jujhar Khaira punched in a nice pass in front from Jesse Puljujarvi. The Oilers then reclaimed the lead with little more than a minute to go in the second, on a power-play goal that went like so: Draisaitl to McDavid to Alex Chiasson, for his career-high-tying 13th of the season.


But in the third, it was all Jets, and the third line in particular — centred by Adam Lowry — managed to shut down McDavid and Co., and limited Edmonton to just two shots. And then that tried and true Jets combination came through to tie things up: Wheeler threaded a pass from behind the net to a relatively open Scheifele, who hammered it home with about 10 minutes to go.

“When I have the puck, I’m looking for him,” Wheeler said, of Scheifele. “That’s the guy I want to pass to, so we’ve had some success doing it and continue to build off that.”

When Morrissey saw those two had regained possession in the overtime frame, “I kind of just saw the open space and took off,” he said.

And so, the Jets got it done yet again, and earned a third win in a row, even if they’re not at their absolute best just yet.

“But we’re definitely happy,” Morrissey said, with a grin. “And we’re definitely trending in the right direction.”

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