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2021 NORTH DIVISION PLAYOFF GAME PREVIEW: Game 3 Edmonton Oilers @ Winnipeg Jets

It’s not technically a “must-win” game for the Oilers, but it’s a must-win game for the Oilers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Winnipeg Jets at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers (0-2) @

Winnipeg Jets (2-0)

23 May 2021

530 PM MST

Bell MTS Place

TV: CBC, Sportsnet

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Arctic Ice Hockey


The Oilers failed to score a single goal in their 1-0 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series. Winnipeg picked up the win when Paul Stastny scored the game’s only goal four minutes into the first overtime session. Connor Hellebuyck has been lights out this series for the Jets, while the Oilers have scored just one goal in 124 minutes of play. The Oilers simply have to win tonight’s game, else they’ll be 0-3 with another game tomorrow night. Will we see some line substitutions from Dave Tippett? Will we see a goal from either Connor McDavid or Leon Draissaitl, or anyone else?

Let’s go to the tape.


“Tonight we still had our looks...We have to find a way to break through. I think the confidence in the room is still there to do that.”


That’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins after his club’s 1-0 OT loss to the Jets on Friday night.

Like game 1, Friday’s game could have easily bounced in the direction of Edmonton. Connor Hellebuyck is towing the Jets right now having allowed just one goal in two games. Edmonton looks to solve the Winnipeg crease tonight. Can they?


“The play started in the D-zone and the puck was in the corner...And [Tucker Poolman] chipped it past their guy and so then I just started picking up speed knowing we’d have a 2-on-2 or 3-on-3. Once [Copp] middle-lane drove and kicked it out to me, at first I was going to kind of look for him, but once he slashed across, I figure I would try to use the [defenseman] as a screen and just try to put the puck on net.”


That’s Jets forward Paul Stastny. Stastny scored the game winner in his description above.

Goaltender Mike Smith had been perfect up to that point, stopping all 35 shots prior to Stastny’s goal. Stastny tossed it to the net while Mike Smith was being screened by defenceman Dmitry Kulikov and that’s all it would take for the Jets to emerge with two wins in Edmonton.


Normally here’s where I like to put a video of the Oilers scoring a goal in the last game. I can’t today, because...well, you know.

  • RAISON D’ETRE: By now, you’ve heard a nuclear hot mound of takes as to why the Oilers aren’t winning. Oh, the building is empty and the players can’t get up. Oh, the best player in the world only cared about getting 100 points. It’s all just static. You want two good reasons? Alright. One, scoring (or lack thereof) and two, goaltending. The Oilers aren’t scoring goals right now. The Oilers have scored one time in two games. Once. Only Jesse Puljujarvi has scored for the Oilers in their two games this playoff series. Another reason? Goaltending. Connor Hellebuyck has a .986 SV% in two games. You don’t score goals, and you run into a hot goalie? You’re gonna have a bad time. Right now, the Oilers aren’t having much fun.
  • I’m not particular about where the goals from, and I’m not going to overanalyze too much in just two games of play. It’d be great to get the top two lines going. It’d also be great if Tippett put some better options on the bottom two lines. There’s no way that Tippett can stand pat after scoring one goal in two games. If we don’t get at least Tyler Ennis tonight, what are we doing on the bottom six? Ennis is no screaming hell on the scoresheet (you can’t be if you don’t play), but he’s a better option than James Neal right now. There’s not a debate there.
  • Who can play for Kassian? Nygard? Haas? Again, I don’t expect the 4RW spot to score 3 points tonight. It’s important to have a player there who can, though.
  • A CASE FOR CALEB JONES: The club has two 3LDs right now and Darnell Nurse. 32 minutes of ice time for Nurse on Friday. Dmitry Kulikov played 15 and a half, while Slater Koekkoek played 14. I know a guy who can help move the puck up the ice.
  • The Jets are scheduled to get Nikolaj Ehlers back tonight. Ehlers has been out the last month after suffering an upper body injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 24th.
  • Mike Smith is playing some of the best hockey right now that I’ve ever seen Mike Smith play. He’s pushing a .946 SV% with two losses in two games. He’s gotta get some support tonight, or he might be the first goaltender I can remember with a SV% that high and 0 wins in a series. Connor Hellebuyck has shut it all down against the Oilers, he’s allowed just one goal on 70 total shots. The Oilers have got to score at least a couple tonight or things are gonna be rough.

The Oilers are not in an enviable situation right now, though the light’s not out yet. A win tonight will do wonders at turning this thing around. A loss tonight? With another game tomorrow night?