One is a Vezina trophy winner. The other was making his fourth career start.
But it was Stuart Skinner who outdueled Connor Hellebuyck as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 in a shootout in a fantastically entertaining hockey game Thursday night.
Despite having two of the highest scoring offences, it took almost 54 minutes for the first goal of the game. But the lack of goals certainly wasn’t due to a lack of chances.
After the Jets opened the scoring with a little over six minutes left in regulation, Connor McDavid scored a highlight reel goal only 28 seconds later, and after a goalless overtime period, the Oilers scored the only two goals of the shootout.
“We liked a lot a part of our game,” said Kyle Connor. “I think we could have buried a couple more chances, but goalie played well. Helly played great too. I think it was a really good game. Just one of those games back and forth.
“I think if we play that type of game – we win nine times out of ten. We’re happy with that.”
Winnipeg has two wins and four losses in their six games that went to overtime this season.
The loss ended the Jets short three-game winning streak, but they still have at least a point in 13 of their last 14 games, and the head coach had no complaints afterwards.
“It was a hell of a game,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “It had all the right elements for hockey, right. It had a little bit of physicality, and it had lots of skill, and lots of smart, hard play. It was a heck of a game.”
Edmonton beat the Jets six straight times last season, but the Jets had won five in a row over the Oilers before the loss, playoffs included. Still, the Jets gained three of a possible four points from their home-and-home with the Oilers.
“Those are the two best games we’ve played this year on back-to-back, even in that five-game stretch that we won. Those are two well played games.”
The Jets finished the night with a season-best 47 shots on goal.
“I thought both teams were really good,” said Hellebuyck. “I don’t think it was just a goaltender battle. I think every person on both teams was playing well. Almost had that playoff vibe to it. It was a grinder. Two good teams going at it.”
The Jets tested the 23-year-old early and often, throwing 17 shots his way in the opening period, but were unable to find the back of the net.
Likewise, the Oilers had 11 shots on net in the opening period with many high danger chances, but couldn’t beat Hellebuyck.
The trend continued in a very physical second period, but the goalies continued to hold down the fort. The Jets had three power plays in the frame that were thwarted by the Oilers’ excellent penalty kill, while Winnipeg also killed off an Oilers power play in the second.
The goalie duel continued well into the third before Nikolaj Ehlers was finally able to get one past Skinner. Mark Scheifele dropped a short pass to Ehlers near the left faceoff dot in the Oilers end, and Ehlers ripped it top shelf to give Winnipeg the lead.
The lead lasted 28 seconds.
Connor McDavid decided to do Connor McDavid things, picking up the puck at his own blueline, gathering steam, and dancing his way through the entire Jets team before beating Hellebuyck.
But it looked like he might wear the goat horns when he took a double-minor penalty for high sticking with just 44 seconds left.
His teammates picked up the slack, though, killing off the entire penalty to get the game to a shootout.
After the first shooter for each side missed, McDavid beat Hellebuyck again to give Edmonton the advantage, before Kyle Turris ended things for the home side.
Skinner finished with a whopping 46 saves while Hellebuyck turned aside 31 shots.
Winnipeg gets right back at it Friday night at Vancouver for their third game in just four days.
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