The Winnipeg Jets ended 2018 on a positive note, and for Brendan Lemieux, the year ended on a high after scoring two goals and helping lead the Jets to victory over the Edmonton Oilers last night.
Lemieux, in his second season with Winnipeg, scored the winning goal after the Edmonton Oilers tied the game midway through the third period. Last night’s win puts Winnipeg right behind second place Maple Leafs and just above fourth place Flames in the standings as Canadian teams continue to dominate this year.
Lemieux, whose father is Claude Lemieux, a former NHL player, had only scored twice in the last 31 games before night, doubling his season total. Commenting, Lemieux said,
“It felt great, it’s good to be a difference-maker. I thought our line played really well tonight. That was the first time we’ve had that dynamic with Andrew Copp in the middle and Jack Roslovic on the wing. I loved our game. There was some stuff we could clean up, but I was really happy with our line tonight.”
Also scoring for the Winnipeg Jets was Brandon Tanev and Blake Wheeler. Andrew Copp earned two assists and Josh Morrissey, Joe Morrow, Jack Roslovic and Jacob Trouba each earned one assist last night as the Jets defeated the Oilers 4-3.
Paul Maurice, head coach for the Jets wasn’t pleased with the start but felt things improved as the game played out. Commenting, Maurice stated,
“The first four shifts of the game I didn’t love, but after that we got better at breaking pucks out, we were a little faster and we hit the middle an awful lot, which is a pretty good tell if we’re moving right.”
Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored one goal and earned an assist Leon Drasaiiti scored twice and Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse and Alex Petrovic each had one assist. Draisaitl, while speaking with media after the loss said,
“It was definitely a better effort than the game before, but it was still not good enough to beat a team like that. We are making too many little mistakes and that starts with me and the top guys. We have to clean that up.”
The Oilers were first to score with five minutes remaining in the first after Connor McDavid burst past the Jets defense, passed the puck to Nugent-Hopkins, who sent a quick wrist shot past Connor Hellebuyck.
Winnipeg tied the game early in the second after Brandon Tanev tipped the puck past Mikko Koskinen after Jacob Trouba sent a long shot toward the net. Edmonton regained the lead less than a minute later when the Oilers and Jets scrambled in front of the net and Lemieux pushed it past Hellebuyck.
The back and forth action continued with the Jets on a power play late in the second. Leon Draisaitl scored his 20th of the season to tie the game, only to watch Blake Wheeler give the Jets the lead less than 30 seconds later.
The Oilers went on the attack and after Connor McDavid picked up a pass and sent it to Leon Draisaitl who was alone in front of the net to once again tie the game. As the clock ticked down, Winnipeg pushed back, and with just under six minutes remaining in the third, Lemieux deflected a shot past Koskinen to put the Jets up 4-3. The win was a special moment for Connor Hellebuyck who earned his 100th win in the NHL. Commenting on the occasion, coach Maurice said,
“As we always say, we just need one and that’s the one we needed.”
The Winnipeg Jets are off on a four day break before hitting the road for a one game stop in Pittsburgh on Friday. Edmonton also heads out on the road for a four game road trip first playing Arizona before heading to California to take on the L.A Kings, Anaheim and the San Jose Sharks.