Jets 4 Oilers 3
WINNIPEG — Concern and uncertainty clouded the Winnipeg Jets’ celebration after a tough 4-3 victory over the surging Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
Top-line centre and leading scorer Mark Scheifele left the game 7:37 into the second period after a hit by Oilers defenceman Brandon Davidson sent him sliding hard into the boards.
“You’re just hoping it’s the wind knocked out of them, they’re rolling around,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “He doesn’t go down easily and he certainly doesn’t lay on the ice ever. So you know if he’s down it’s significant.”
He added he’ll know the extent of the upper-body injury after Scheifele is looked at more closely on Thursday. Scheifele had an assist before leaving to give him 38 points.
Joel Armia scored twice and Bryan Little and Kyle Connor also had goals as Winnipeg halted Edmonton’s season-high winning streak at four games.
Leon Draisaitl had a shorthanded goal and one assist for the Oilers (17-18-2), extending his point streak to five games with one goal and eight assists. Jesse Puljujarvi and Jujhar Khaira also had a goal each and Connor McDavid added a pair of assists.
Connor Hellebuyck made 22 saves for the Jets (21-11-6), who are 13-3-1 at home. Cam Talbot stopped 35 shots for the Oilers. He went into the game winning his past seven straight starts.
Davidson didn’t draw a penalty on the hit to Scheifele and Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said it was an unfortunate injury.
“The boards are so heavy and so hard that when you go into them like that and you can’t protect yourself or slow down, something’s got to give,” McLellan said. “Hopefully he’s not hurt, seriously hurt. We want to have our star players, or all players, in the games.”
Winnipeg hosts the New York Islanders on Friday and travel to take on the Oilers again Sunday.
“There’s no intent there by (Davidson). You can tell,” Oilers forward Mark Letestu said. “(Scheifele) just kind of went in awkwardly.
“He’s good for our league, but if he misses the next couple (games), and the next time they’re through Edmonton, that wouldn’t hurt my feelings.”
The teams were tied 2-2 after the first period and Winnipeg led 4-3 after the middle frame.
After Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba couldn’t keep the puck in Edmonton’s end on the power play, McDavid raced after it and went in alone on Hellebuyck. When he got to the front of the net, he suddenly dropped the puck back to Draisaitl, who notched his ninth goal of the season for the 1-0 lead at 6:17 of the first.
Little tied it up just under two minutes later. The veteran centre’s sixth goal of the season came in his 710th NHL career game, making him the franchise leader in games played for the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise. He surpassed former teammate Chris Thorburn.
Armia gave Winnipeg the 2-1 lead at 14:44, but Puljujarvi quickly struck on a rebound to knot the score at 16:07.
The Jets regained the lead 54 seconds into the middle period after Blake Wheeler fed a pass across the front of Talbot to Connor. The assist was Wheeler’s 288th for the organization, surpassing Ilya Kovalchuk as franchise leader for helpers.
The captain was worried about his linemate Scheifele.
“That’s my running mate, man,” said Wheeler, who moved to centre. “That’s part of my livelihood, a big part of what we do as a team. Irreplaceable. Just fingers crossed.”
Armia scored his second of the game, and sixth of the season, after taking advantage of a bad Oilers pass. He stole the puck and went in on a breakaway to make it 4-2 at 9:48, but Khaira closed the gap to one goal, again, 47 seconds later.
“I thought that the work ethic and the commitment to wanting to work hard was there tonight, but our smarts, our hockey smarts, didn’t exist,” said McLellan, whose team hosts Chicago Friday.
“A lot of times we were stepping up in the neutral zone, we had poor support in behind, face-off execution, number of turnovers, stuff that we need to do a much better job of against a team like that.”