The Edmonton Oilers did themselves a huge favor on Wednesday night in Winnipeg. The Oilers knocked off the Jets by a final score of 3-1, sweeping the two-game miniseries and moving to 7-2-0 against Winnipeg on the season. The win puts the Oilers three points ahead of the Jets for second place in the North Division with two games in hand. The Oilers, thanks to their last two wins, have home-ice in the first round within their reach.
Mikko Koskinen was outstanding for the Oilers in the win on Wednesday, stopping 29 shots. Koskinen was aided by an Oiler powerplay the stepped up after a quiet night on Monday. Edmonton went 2-for-3 on the skater advantage Wednesday, getting goals from Tyson Barrie and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
“Our power play came through with a couple big goals for us,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said after the win. “It was kind of a slug fest after that, just trying to find space out there. Koski was good and we got a big kill at the end also, which helped us. We knew they were going to play hard. They’re a desperate team and I liked the way our guys hung in the game.”
Edmonton’s powerplay opened the scoring on Barrie’s bomb in the first period. Moments after Blake Wheeler tied the game at one, Nugent-Hopkins scored just 12 seconds into a double-minor for high-sticking to give Edmonton the lead back.
Nugent-Hopkins’ goal was the difference on this night, and perhaps signals a change in the weather for the veteran. Since returning from injury last Wednesday night, Nugent-Hopkins has scored in all three games he has played and has started to look like his old self. That would be a huge boost for the Oilers if he returned to form.
“I’ve felt pretty good since being back, and being back with Leo and Yamo we’ve tried to find the chemistry and create some scoring chances,” Nugent-Hopkins said after the victory. “We’ve gotten some good looks out there while at the same time being solid defensively. Overall, a few games back now and I’m feeling good, so I want to keep that feeling going into the playoffs.”
If the Oilers can get consistent production out of the Draisaitl line, which dominated in the second half of last season, then they too will be feeling good as they approach their first round series with the Jets.