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Player grades: With a little help from above, Mike Smith steals a point for the punchless Oilers



Oilers 0, Jets 1 (SO)

Not sure if the ice was bad at Bell MTS Place, or maybe they forgot to freeze the pucks. Whatever the issue, both the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets struggled to hit a friendly stick with one pass or net opposition with one shot. The two teams land their way through a frenetically-paced 65 minutes of hockey without a goal to show for it. The scrambly affair was ultimately decided in the shootout when the Jets were finally able to solve Mike Smith, while the Oil never outscored Connor Hellebuyck.

The Oilers held the edge on the shot clock at 28-23 including 26-13 at 5v5, but the Jets had an 11-8 edge in Grade A scoring chances. That doesn't include a whole bunch of looks that didn't generate a shot, be it the Jets firing wide of the danger zone a good half a dozen times in the first period, or the Oilers wasting four (4) 2-ons. 1 rushes in overtime without ever executing a play that results in a shot.

On a night that the visitors had a little going offensively, credit Mike Smith (and Dave Tippett) with stealing a point. Specifically on four Jets powerplays when the Jets poured 10 shots on him including 6 of their Grade A chances. He was beaten once by rookie Carl Dahlstrom midway through the third, but that one was taken off the board after a successful offside challenge from the Edmonton bench.

The game lacks for effort with occasional bursts of excitement if not actual execution, especially in the final 25 minutes after a fairly desultory opening 40.

Player grades

# 4 Kris Russell, 6. Played 22:02 on a night Tippett leaned heavily on his top four, which once again included veteran Russell. In his 18 minutes at even strength the Jets mustered just 4 shots. Chipped in 3:56 on the "perfect" penalty kill. Struggled to clear the puck at times, but at others his patience and experience won the day.

# 15 Josh Archibald, 4th. Played with speed and aggression, landing 3 hits and twice bumping Hellebuyck in the blue paint. Unable to muster so much as a shot attempt, however. Burned on 3 Winnipeg chances, 2 on penalty kill.

# 16 Jujhar Khaira, 5. Had an excellent early shift, dominating possession along the walls and winning multiple puck battles for an extended possession. But he had a couple of shifts later when after a long shift at his end, he failed to make the change even as the Oilers briefly put the puck deep and even as the bench was on his wing; yet it was his trio that was caught out for an extra 40 seconds in a 1:25 shift. That won him friends on the coaching staff nor with teammates such as James Neal who was left chafing on the bench while the rest of his line had to carry a gassed winger for another stretch in the d-zone. Took a highly-dubious holding-the-stick penalty midway through the third, fortunately his mates killed it off. Despite spending those two minutes in the box he led the forwards in penalty kill time at 2:41 and performed well.

# 18 James Neal, 5. Among the many shooters on both teams whose sights were a bit off, missing the net with 3 of his 5 shot attempts. He did manage one dangerous drive in overtime. Had his stick broken on an obvious, though unpenalized, slash and could be heard barking at Mr. Referee in the aftermath.

# 23 Riley Sheahan, 5. His line with Khaira and Archibald started the game, but they were pretty sure they were allowing a run-length 3-on-2 within 20 seconds of the puck drop in Dave Tippett's game plan. They settled down thereafter, playing uneventful hockey for 9 even strength minutes with Sheahan adding a further 2:22 on the PK. His 1 shot on net was the only shot attempt by his entire line. So much for depth scoring. His 6/8 = 75% on the dot was helpful.

# 25 Darnell Nurse, 7. Played a whopping 22 minutes at evens, during which the Oilers allowed just 2 shots while firing 11 of their own. Part of that seemingly airtight defense was missed by the Jets, but Nurse himself blocked a game-high 4 shots including a mammoth block to eliminate a great Winnipeg opportunity deep into the third period and bail out several floundering teammates in the process. Played 26:23 in all situations, seeing plenty of Winnipeg's top attackers in the process.

# 26 Brandon Manning, 5. Played just 10:07 on Edmonton's lightly-used third pairing, but managed to keep his head above water. Had a nice sequence where he picked off a pass in his own zone, jumped into some open ice on the counter and narrowly missed feeding Draisaitl.

# 29 Leon Draisaitl, 5. His 25:39 topped all forwards, the fifth time this young season topped the 25-minute mark. Other than occasional bursts, he has a lot of jumping in his step. Among those let off the hook on the disallowed goal. Made some nice setups to various Oilers (Bear, Chiasson, Kassian). Struggled, however, to connect with McDavid (and vice versa) on a night nothing rhymed for the two Oilers superstars be it 5v5, powerplay, or 3v3. Credited with 4 shots on net to lead the team, but 2 of them were from 156 and 167 feet, which helped the old shooting percentage. Was oddly reluctant to shoot himself from the slot, notably on two consecutive 2-on-1 rushes in overtime where both times he tried a hard pass from prime shooting position. Finally did manage to feed McD with a terrific backhand stretch pass but # 97 solve Hellebuyck. Just 7/18 + 39% on the dot.

# 39 Alex Chiasson, 4th. Did seem to have his skating legs and had little impact on the game as a result. Was clicking with his passes. Had a decent look at the slot off a sweet Draisaitl setup but failed to pull the trigger and the chance was gone.

# 41 Mike Smith, 9. Living embodiment of the old saying, "your best penalty killer needs to be your goalie". In 8 minutes shorthanded he turned aside 10 Jets drives, many of them Winnipeg's special teams far outstripped Edmonton's special teams on both units. Made 2 splendid stops of Patrik Laine one-timers, and had Mark Scheifele's number all night. Had no answers in the shootout, though credit to Winnipeg shooters for executing their shots. 23 shots, 23 saves, 1,000 save percentage and his first shutout as an Oiler.

# 44 Zack Kassian, 6. Solid physical effort with 4 more hits and a lot of net-front presence, but zero shot attempts. Had a great 2-on-1 chance with RNH but would get his stick on the bullet pass for the tap. Did make a couple of sharp passes of his own. Drew scored both Winnipeg penalties and by far the best shot metrics on his line.

# 52 Patrick Russell, 6. His 4 shots on goal tied McDavid and Draisaitl for the team lead (read that again slowly), and he did so in 40% of the ice time. His line with Granlund and Jurco was very effective in their limited minutes, penning Winnipeg into their own zone and outshooting them by a wide margin. The trio were unlucky not to score on a third period shift where Granlund first, then Russell were robbed from close range. Had another good look at the dying minutes.

# 60 Markus Granlund, 6. Just one shot on the net (a mid-air swat that severely tested Hellbuyck from the edge of the crease) but a strong overall game. During his 8 minutes at Evens the Oilers outshot the Jets 8-0 and held a 13-1 edge in shot attempts, testament to the line's strong play on the cycle. Added 2:21 on penalty kill.

# 74 Ethan Bear, 7. The young defender continues to impress fans and coaches alike with his heady play. Played a monstrous 25:32 in this one, including 9:46 in the third period alone. Saw extensive duty on the penalty kill (3:44) and even got a shift in 3 on 3 overtime. Edmonton's arguably had the best chance to score in regulation when he stepped into a one-timer from the slot but was robbed by Hellebuyck. Really flashed his puck-moving skills at times including a particularly nifty cut into the open ice and a quick feed into a lane to make a quick counter-attack in the final frame. Was exposed for an extended d-zone one-on-one against the dangerous Scheifele late in the third and not only lived to tell about it, he came away with the puck. 5 shot attempts, 1 hit, 1 block.

# 77 Oscar Klefbom, 6. His team-leading TOi of 27:05 included 8 minutes on special teams. Fired 6 shot attempts, 3 of them on goal, as the Oilers struggled to score from the point as they had both goals in Friday's 2-1 win over Detroit. Indeed through two periods over half (8) of Edmonton's 15 shots came from the back end as they generated several rebounds but zero friendly bounces. 3 blocked shots and the lion's share of moving puck in his pairing with Russell.

# 83 Matt Benning, 5. Quiet night in limited minutes (10:43). 1 shot, 1 hit, 1 block.

# 92 Thomas Jurco, 6. The official stats suggest he did almost nothing (0 shots, 0 hits) in just 8:15, but I saw him as an equal partner on an effective bottom-six line with Granlund and P.Russell. Made a number of heady plays with the puck, especially from the high slot where he seems to do his best work. Chipped in on 3 dangerous Oilers chances, all in the third period, and 0 against. Indeed, the Jets never even had a shot while he was out there (shots 8-0, Corsi 13-1).

# 93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. The best Edmonton forward was involved in all three zones on both sides of the puck, supported by stats of 6 shot attempts, 3 hits, 3 takeaways, and 2 blocked shots along with 6/12 = 50% on the dot. Made some slick one-on-one moves, including one where he cut right into the slot and fed Kassian for a near tap. Busted his tail all night long, notably a splendid recovery in overtime when he made a 10-foot gap on Wheeler and stripped the Winnipeg captain just as he was about to fly on a 2-on-1.

# 97 Connor McDavid, 5. Note: this is a "McDavid 5" not an "ordinary player 5", but it was a fairly ordinary game by McD's lofty standards. Made a nice feed to Bear in the early going for Edmonton's only Grade A chance of opening 40 minutes, but had trouble finding the range with his passes at other times. Twice failed to gain the zone on powerplay, normally one of his superpowers. Took a borderline slashing penalty against Wheeler after the giant Jet thumped P. Russell with a heavy check in the neutral zone. Whiffed on a pair of one-time efforts in overtime, then unable to convert on a breakaway chance after being walked by Scheifele for a great chance at the other end seconds earlier. His shootout effort was slow, weak, and wide. Looked a bit off his game to be frank; that said he logged another 24:55 and it might be catching up with him a bit.

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