September 30, 2016 - 9:12 PM
WINNIPEG - Jets captain Blake Wheeler came away with some optimism after seeing Winnipeg's power play connect so many times on Friday night.
Wheeler finished the game with three assists and Winnipeg went 4 for 5 on the power play en route to a 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers in pre-season play.
"It looked really good tonight and we're going to keep working at it and hopefully build off it," Wheeler said of the power play that worked so well after struggling most of last season.
The Jets finished dead last at the end of the 2015-16 season with a power-play success rate of 14.8 per cent and they know more work has to be done for this year.
"We'd have power plays and not even get it in the zone sometimes so as long as we're creating momentum, creating offensive chances, we're doing our job," said Wheeler.
Adam Lowry, Joel Armia, Toby Enstrom, Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele, who also had three assists, scored for Winnipeg (2-1-0) as the Jets paired their power-play success with strong penalty killing.
Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan said his team's inability to kill a penalty was frustrating.
"We'd be crazy to keep putting the same people out on the penalty kill but you're giving them another chance to get the job done," he said of the pre-season process.
"We've had guys on for four or five straight penalty kill goals and it can't happen that way. We spent two days in practice working on it."
He says the players involved are a mix of veterans and newcomers.
"Everybody's in a different spot and we've got to get it together."
The Oilers (2-2-0) started strong but didn't find the back of the net until late in the second period when Oscar Klefbom finally beat Jets netminder Michael Hutchinson, who had stopped 20 shots up to that point. The Jets were outshot 34-21 overall.
It was also the debut of No. 2 overall draft pick Patrik Laine in a Jets uniform and he admitted he was pretty nervous. Despite showing some speed, he didn't have a lot of chances until late in the second when he came close with a solid slapshot.
"The first period was kind of hard to play. I was so nervous and couldn't play my game but it's always the first game, in every team with me, it's always hard."
Laine lined up with fellow Finn Armia and Nic Petan in the middle. Finland was also well represented on Edmonton's side with No. 4 draft pick Jesse Puljujarvi, another player from the nation's gold-medal junior team.
Edmonton had nine shots to Winnipeg's three when Lowry, parked in front of the net, connected off Wheeler and Scheifele at 8:39 of the opening period on the Jets' first power play of the game.
The Oilers blew their chance to even things up a few minutes later, losing half their first power play to an interference call on defenceman Matthew Benning.
That also opened the door for the Jets again and this time, with just three seconds left in their second power play, Scheifele fed Armia, who beat Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot on a breakaway.
The Jets scored their third power-play goal early in the second when Talbot lost control of a loose puck that found its way back to Winnipeg defenceman Enstrom in the slot at 2:53.
A fourth Winnipeg goal from winger Branden Tanev was waved off by the referee for a high stick.
The Oilers' frustration boiled over in the second with winger Matt Hendricks going after Dustin Byfuglien, then linemate Zach Kassian taking on Julian Melchiori.
The Oilers got their only goal at the 15:40 mark of the second when Klefblom stole the puck from beside the Winnipeg net and slipped it behind Hutchinson, who was making his pre-season debut.
Scheifele continued Winnipeg's power-play success and made it 4-1 at 14:22 from the face-off circle off a pass from Paul Postma and Connor made it 5-1 with about two minutes left with assists from linemates Scheifele and Wheeler.
"It's nice scoring that many goals but for the most part we just want to continue to grow, probably be a little better defensively, and you know if we do that we'll just create more offence " said Scheifele.
"There's still a bunch of pre-season games."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016