By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler decided to train together in the summer. It appears to be quickly paying off.
The Jets linemates each had three-point games as Winnipeg defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 in pre-season play Sunday.
Scheifele scored a power-play goal, added another shorthanded and picked up an assist on Wheeler’s power-play goal. The captain also had a pair of assists.
“Blake’s the guy that drives this bus and I’m a guy who likes to follow him and try to help out as much as I can,” Scheifele said.
“I think the biggest thing is we just feed off each other. We continue to bounce ideas off each other on how to get better and how to make our team better and he’s a pretty smart guy to talk with.”
Rookie forward Skyler McKenzie also scored twice for Winnipeg. Forward Dennis Everberg and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien each contributed a pair of helpers.
McKenzie, a native of Sherwood Park, Alta., had scored a goal in his first pro game with the AHL Manitoba Moose last season. Friday’s pair came in his debut with the Jets. The congratulations were lighting up his cellphone.
“Yeah, it’s blowing up. I can’t even go through it right now,” a smiling McKenzie said.
Connor Hellebuyck made 38 saves for Winnipeg, which is 3-1-0 in the pre-season.
Edmonton had Finnish free-agent signing Mikko Koskinen in net. He stopped 16 shots.
The Oilers got a pair of goals from Kailer Yamamoto and one from Ethan Bear as they dropped to 3-1-0. Top players such as Connor McDavid and Leon Draistaitl didn’t dress.
“I thought we played well, honestly,” Bear said. (The Jets) got a couple of bounces and that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I think we played well and I think we played hard.”
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said he wasn’t overly disappointed with the loss.
“Any time you lose you’re not happy, but there’s a lot of good things we did in the game that we can correct and build off of,” McLellan said.
Winnipeg iced most of its stars, although left-winger Kyle Connor took a puck to the neck in the morning skate and was held out as a precaution. He was replaced on the top line with Scheifele and Wheeler by Finnish rookie Kristian Vesalainen, Winnipeg’s first-round pick (24th overall) in the 2017 NHL draft.
The Oilers outshot the Jets 11-4 in the first period and took a 2-1 lead. The visitors’ shots on goal skyrocketed to 29-9 after the second period, but it was Winnipeg that grabbed a 3-2 lead.
Wheeler took advantage of an Edmonton turnover just outside of the blue line and passed the puck across the front of the net to Scheifele for the short-handed goal at 10:01 that made it 3-2.
Wheeler boosted it to 4-2 at 7:44 of the third during a two-man advantage with Oilers skaters Brad Malone and Zack Kassian in the penalty box.
McKenzie scored his second goal midway through the final period and Yamamoto’s second came with 40 seconds remaining.