What a tilt!
The Jets were the better team and deserved the two points, sure. But you have to give the Oilers credit for puling their goalie with more than two minutes to play, then applying intense, frenetic pressure until the final buzzer.
The Jets, we know are a very good team. Canada’s best NHL club, we would say. The Oilers, who came in after winning four straight, are starting to look like a very good team themselves and ran with the Jets right to the end.
For a 4-3 game the goaltending was outstanding at both ends. No lead was safe, and both teams’ stars were fabulous. If every game was this entertaining, we wouldn’t need Netflix, folks.
Some takeaways from a game that should make us remember: The Jets are in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve. Mark your calendar.
They came to see young Finnish stars Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, and neither disappointed. Puljujarvi led all players with seven shots on goal, and tucked home a rebound, while Laine had six shots on goal, tops on the Jets.
But wouldn’t you know, it was another Finn — Joel Armia, the pride of Pori — who outscored both with a pair of goals. Armia forced the best out of Cam Talbot just to deny him a hat trick. He played only 12:27 but no player had more decent cracks at goal than Armia, a player we’ve always liked.
The problem with Mark Scheifele staying down on the ice and writhing in pain is, he doesn’t play in the Premiership. When Scheifele stays down, as he did when he slid into the boards rather innocently in the second period after a light shove by defenceman Brandon Davidson, it makes you believe the worst. Scheifele did not return, and the Jets issued the obvious “upper-body injury” report early in the third period. It very much appears to be a right shoulder injury, and the Jets won’t sleep well tonight waiting for news on how long, if at all, they’re going to miss No. 55.
“Initially it doesn’t look very good,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice told reporters in Winnipeg after the game. Scheifele will be evaluated on Thursday.
Talbot Is Back
Whatever happens with the Edmonton Oilers this season, this much we know for sure: With Talbot playing at this level, they’ll always have a chance.
He was unbelievable in stopping 35 of 39 shots, keeping the Oilers within a goal while the Jets poured it on over the course of four powerplays. This was the level of play Edmonton rode into the playoffs last season, and is a considerable improvement on his first quarter of the 2017-18 season — which, like the rest of his teammates, simply wasn’t good enough.
Last year this Jets team would have found a way to cough up the tying goal in those furious last two minutes. Often, that goal would have evaded Hellebuyck to groans from the Jets faithful.
The fact his game has solidified is no small part of why the Jets look like such solid contenders this season. He only faced 25 shots Wednesday, but Hellebuyck has his game at a level that exudes confidence, and that is contagious for a Winnipeg club that never looked like it was going to lose this game.