After the Winnipeg Jets were quiet on trade deadline day, their general manager reiterated his confidence in the team.
Perhaps Friday night’s result shook that faith.
The Jets looked outmatched, outclassed and outmatched in a 6-3 loss at Edmonton, a final scoreline that flattered the visitors who are now 1-6-1 in their last eight games.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto all scored twice in Edmonton’s win.
The Jets gave the league’s top-ranked power play nine chances on the power play, and the Oilers took advantage of two of them.
“I’ve never coached a team, I don’t think they’ve been so unruly and taken so many penalties,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said. “So you play a third of the game shorthanded against this team, they’re going to make you look bad, and they made us look bad tonight.”
The Jets allowed just one goal in the first, but a terrible mid-stanza saw the Oilers add three more before winning.
“We made it easy for them to play their game,” Bowness said. “We have to be a lot more proud of our ability to defend, which we’ve been doing for most of the season, which is no longer where it should be.”
If there was a bright spot for the Jets, it was Connor McDavid’s five-game scoring streak, but he still recorded three assists.
The Jets trailed by five in the final frame, but scored three late goals when the game was already out of reach to make the scoreline a bit more respectable.
They will look to capitalize on that in Saturday’s rematch in Winnipeg.
“That’s what we said before the third,” said Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. “Just go out there and do our best and try to bring that for tomorrow. I thought the third period was a bit better, but overall it’s not a good game.
Pierre-Luc Dubois missed a second straight game with a lower-body injury, but David Gustafsson returned to the lineup after missing the last 20 games.
Jets acquisition center Vladislav Namestnikov was scheduled to fly to Winnipeg late Friday, but Bowness wasn’t sure if he would be available for the rematch.
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“We’ll see,” he said. “He hasn’t skated for a few days. He arrives tonight. I’ll talk to him tomorrow morning, see how he’s doing.
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Things went wrong from the get-go as Kyle Connor picked up a stumble penalty just 79 seconds from the start of the competition, giving the supercharged Oilers an early opportunity and they made no mistakes.
Moments after Morgan Barron failed to clear the puck, Nugent-Hopkins found Draisaitl for his 37th of the season to open the scoring.
The Jets played with fire for the remainder of the period, giving Edmonton three more chances on the power play, but the Jets killed all six minutes to keep the deficit one at a time.
But after escaping the first 20 minutes, the barrage broke in the second.
A Dylan DeMelo clearance attempt landed directly on the stick of Nugent-Hopkins, who buried the turnover past Connor Hellebuyck to make it 2-0 with just 1:44 remaining in the period.
Winnipeg then got its first power-play chance of the game but couldn’t convert, then a pivotal streak may have wiped out hope for the Jets.
Nikolaj Ehlers was started on a 2-on-1 and tried to pass a pass to Nino Niederreiter, but he was broken and the puck was shot down the ice to a wide-open Yamamoto on a breakaway.
He knocked out Hellebuyck to make it 3-0, but the bleeding wasn’t over yet.
Just 40 seconds later, Yamamoto scored again after the Jets made a mess in their own end to make it 4-0 after two.
With another meeting to come between the two on Saturday night, Hellebuyck was pulled for the third period, not that David Rittich could cure what ailed the Jets.
Another Oilers power play led to another Nugent-Hopkins goal as he reached 30 goals for the first time in his career.
Winnipeg finally got on the board when Jonsson-Fjallby buried his 5th of the season.
But just over a minute later, on a delayed penalty, Draisaitl scored again to make it 6-1.
Mark Scheifele notched his 35th of the season with just over eight minutes to go and Brenden Dillion scored his second of the campaign less than a minute later to make it 6-3, but it’s that close that the Jets would get.
Niederreiter picked up an assist on Scheifele’s goal to earn his first point as a Jet.
The Oilers’ big guns did heavy damage as Nugent-Hopkins had four points, Draisaitl had three, but Connor McDavid’s multi-goal streak ended at five.
Stuart Skinner took the win, making 25 saves while Hellebuyck stopped 20 shots before being ripped off.
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Winnipeg will try to right the ship Saturday night when they host the Oilers at 6 p.m. Pregame coverage on 680 CJOB begins at 4 p.m.
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