Edmonton Oilers (0-1)
Winnipeg Jets (1-0)
21 May 2021
7 PM MST
TV: CBC, Sportsnet
Radio: 630 CHED
A FORGETTABLE FIRST
A sluggish start gave way to a better second period, but it would be the Winnipeg Jets who would emerge victorious in game one. It’s quite a bit unfortunate that the Oilers weren’t able to take advantage of a Jets club that was down two top-six forwards due to injury, but Connor Hellebuyck stopped all but one of the 33 shots he faced to pick up the W. Winnipeg got goals from Tucker Poolman and Dominic Toninato before putting a couple in a yawning net late in the third. The Oilers’ scored first when Jesse Puljujarvi opened it up in the second period, but that’s all the Oilers could muster.
The Oilers need a win in game two in order to avoid going down 2-0 and taking the hike to Winnipeg. Can the Oilers leave Edmonton with a split?
Let’s go to the tape.
THE OILERS ARE SAYING
“I think I just tried to work hard and make good plays and play smart...It was a hard game and hopefully we can win the next one.”
That’s Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi on his game 1 performance.
Puljujarvi had Edmonton’s only goal in the club’s 4-1 loss.
I leapt out of my seat when I saw the puck go in. We all want Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to score a boatload of goals, but Jesse Puljujarvi scoring made me feel all sorts of emotions when it went in. Here’s looking at another one tonight, Jesse. And another one after that. The club could use it.
THE JETS ARE SAYING
“I thought that both teams were actually tentative in some of their play with the puck early, which is understandable...It was a little more physical at times so there weren’t a lot of plays made. And then neither team generated much off the rush, which is prototypical of playoff hockey. I thought they did a better job getting to our crease and scrumming pucks. Where Connor [Hellebuyck] was really good was within two feet of the blue paint. I think that’s an area we have to improve on.”
That’s Jets head coach Paul Maruice after his club’s 4-1 win on Wednesday.
If I’m Paul Maurice, I’m pretty happy with my club’s outcome in game 1. Down by two top six forwards, but they scored just enough. Connor Hellebuyck took care of most everything and the Jets got a couple of lucky bounces and a pretty deflection goal to go up for good in the game. A little luck goes a long way in this game, now the Jets have a chance to go home up 2-0 with a win tonight. The Oilers do not want to leave Edmonton without at least one win.
HAVE SOME OF THIS
- Game 1 could have gone either way. The Oilers ran into a hot goaltender and the Jets got a lucky bounce on a deflection. Way she goes. This doesn’t mean that Tippett can play his hand a little differently tonight in order to stir things up a little. Start with playing Tyler Ennis and maybe find a spot for Joakim Nygard in the bottom six. I’d take Caleb Jones in the lineup too (this won’t happen). Eleven minutes of James Neal and ten from Zack Kassian yielded about what you expect.
- There’s no doubt pressure on Dave Tippett after his top two lines were mostly silent (excluding Jesse Puljujarvi’s goal, of course), and he scrambled up the top two lines in practice yesterday. McDavid and Draisaitl teamed up with Dominik Kahun, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was on line two with Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto. I don’t know if I love this idea. Even though McDavid and Draisaitl were kept off the scoresheet in Wednesday’s loss, I don’t think that happens again tonight. If Tippett runs these lines tonight, they’ve got all of their top firepower on the top line. If Puljujarvi and Yamamoto are on line two, that probably puts Jesse at LW. How much time has he spent playing left?
- Pierre Luc Dubois is likely return for the Jets after being held out of game one with an upper body injury. Nikolaj Ehlers is not yet expected for tonight’s game.
- Mike Smith will get the nod once again tonight for the Oilers, as will Connor Hellebuyck for the Jets. I think Smith played well enough for the Oilers to win on Wednesday night, and the club will no doubt need the same from him again tonight. For more info on Smith and Hellebuyck, check out game 1’s goaltender recap from former pro goaltender Rob Gherson here.
- THE WHISTLES GO WOOOO: Not a whole lot of penalties in the series opener. The Oilers got just one chance on the power play, they weren’t able to take advantage. A couple more well called penalties could have turned the tide. Keep a keen eye out for special teams tonight.
- JOIN US, AGAIN. Oilers need this one tonight. Join our game thread tonight, up one hour before puck drop. Stay with us until the game ends and through our review. Will Edmonton knot this series up, or will they head out to Winnipeg down a pair?