Puljujarvi scores twice, Nugent-Hopkins gets winner as Oilers down Jets in pre-season

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EDMONTON — Jesse Puljujarvi continues to cement his position as Connor McDavid’s full-time linemate.

Puljujarvi had a pair of goals as the Edmonton Oilers snapped a two-game skid in pre-season play, defeating the visiting Winnipeg Jets 4-3 on Saturday.

“His confidence grew all of last year and he has come into camp in great shape,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett of the 23-year-old Puljujarvi. “He is confident playing with Connor. He is moving. He shoots the puck and goes to the net.

"When you are in front of the net you are going to find some goals, and that is what he did tonight.”

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the game-winning goal with 1:56 remaining in the third period to break a 3-3 deadlock. Devin Shore also scored for the Oilers (3-1-1).

Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey replied for the Jets (1-1-1), who suffered their first loss in regulation in pre-season.

Down 3-1 in the third, Winnipeg fought back to make it a one-goal game with 8:24 left as Declan Chisholm sent a pass through a defenceman's legs to allow a back-door tap-in by Scheifele.

The Jets then tied it up a couple of minutes later as Morrissey was left alone in front to bang home a pass from Evgeny Svechnikov.

“You want to win every game you play. I don’t care if it’s exhibition or not, so you get back in that game and you want a better result,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “I think those D pairings are going to be just fine for us, they’re going to work well. Still a real competition for those open jobs on the fourth line and they’re making it tough.”

Edmonton regained the lead with just under two minutes left in the game as Leon Draisaitl stripped a puck and then sent a long backhand pass through traffic to Nugent-Hopkins, who beat Eric Comrie for the winner.

“You have to work to a spot, because even if (Draisaitl) is not looking, he knows that you are there,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “He’ll bring at least two guys to him. That pass at the end, there are maybe a couple of guys in the league who can strip a guy and then make that pass without really looking. Playing with him, you have to know that he is going to be able to do that.”

The Jets took an early lead four minutes into the opening frame after the Oilers allowed an odd-man break on the tail end of their first power play. Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen was able to make an initial save on Kristian Vesalainen, but had little chance on the rebound as Connor notched his second of the pre-season.

Edmonton bounced back on their next power play late in the first as Puljujarvi tipped a long Draisaitl shot past Jets netminder Comrie.

After several quality stops by Koskinen, the Oilers surged ahead 3-1 with goals just over two minutes apart.

With seven minutes left in the second period, Shore tipped home a Brendan Perlini shot, which was followed up by Puljujarvi scoring his second of the game and third in exhibition on a booming slap shot.

The Jets are back at it on Sunday as they head to Vancouver to face the Canucks. The Oilers remain home to welcome the Calgary Flames on Monday.

Notes: Winnipeg defeated Edmonton 5-1 last Wednesday. ... The Jets swept the Oilers in four straight games in the first round of last season’s playoffs. … Veteran defenceman Duncan Keith started skating with the Oilers on Friday and is expected to play his first game with them on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2021.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press

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