WINNIPEG — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ goal was the turning point as the Edmonton Oilers overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in pre-season action Wednesday night.
And linemate Jordan Eberle believes some of the prospects should get credit for making it happen.
“It might have been just before that,” he said of Nugent-Hopkins’ second-period goal.
“We had a couple of shifts in our third and fourth lines, some young guys went out there had some zone pressure against them and we were able to capitalize on a shot there.”
“That line of (Kale) Kessy, (Tyler) Pitlick and (Travis) Ewanyk had a big shift for us,” he said.
Ewanyk and Kessy played last season for Edmonton’s AHL franchise in Oklahoma City as did Pitlick — although he also played 10 games with the Oilers.
Bogdan Yakimov and Justin Schultz also scored for Edmonton in the second period.
Before that it had been all Jets.
TJ Galiardi got things started on a first-period breakaway off a long pass from Will O’Neill and beat Laurent Brossoit at 14:09. Brossoit played last season in the ECHL and finished with Edmonton’s AHL farm team in Oklahoma City.
Jets forward Evander Kane had a breakaway as well in the first and earned a penalty shot on a hook but hit the crossbar.
Wednesday night was the debut of the Kane, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler line.
Nugent-Hopkins took the first penalty of the game late in the first period and the Jets opened the second with 1:19 left in their power play. Matt Halischuk cashed in at 1:11 off a pass from Kane as he snapped the puck past Brossoit’s glove.
“We definitely rope-a-doped ’em. I mean early, it seemed like they were playing in our end quite a bit,” said Eberle.
Galiardi said the Jets gave it away after their strong start.
“It was more what we did, not what they did,” said the off-season acquisition from the Calgary Flames.
“Every chance they had and every goal they got was basically our doing. We gave them the opportunities and that’s the kind of team they are. They’ve got a lot of skill and if you give them those two-on-ones and odd-man rushes they’re going to score.”
It was Edmonton’s second pre-season win. The Jets are now 1-1.
The Oilers made Brossoit work pretty hard in the second — at one point the Jets were ahead 17-8 on shots — but Nugent-Hopkins finally got the Oilers on the board with a slick shot as he rushed past Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba to beat Michael Hutchinson’s glove.
Yakimov tied the game off a cross-net pass from Vladimir Tkachev at 16:03 and with just nine seconds left in the period Tkachev fed Schultz in front of the Winnipeg net to make it 3-2. The Oilers ended up outshooting the Jets 12-10 in the second.
As a measure of how the complexion of the game changed, the Jets had managed only two shots in about 20 minutes of hockey midway through the third period while the Oilers had 20 in the same time span.
Tyler Rimmer relieved Brossoit for the third period but Hutchinson stayed in the Winnipeg net.
The Jets finally regained some momentum but Halischuk hit the crossbar with just over three minutes left on what could have been the tying goal.
Despite the loss, Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice liked what he saw from some of the young players he had in the lineup.
“I think Nik Ehlers showed flashes in each of the two games . . . I really liked Nicky Petan in the middle, in the centre face-off . . . Adam Lowry’s just smart kind of wherever he goes. . . and (Josh) Morrissey, another step better.”
He said overall they were too happy with themselves midway through the second, stopped doing what had been working until then and paid for it.
“That’s human nature.”
Maurice also liked the way Kane and Scheifele helped kill penalties. The teams each took three but the Jets managed to kill all of theirs without giving up a goal.