By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Connor Hellebuyck knew it wasn’t going to be an easy night in net, but he got a lot of help and it paid off.
Hellebuyck made 32 saves as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Western Conference-leading Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Tuesday.
“Any time a team comes in that’s winning a lot of games, it’s on,” Hellebuyck said. “It’s not going to be a fun night, it’s going to be a grinder, and I think we all followed into that tonight.”
Adam Lowry, Nikolaj Ehlers, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor scored for Winnipeg (9-3-3). Josh Morrissey added a pair of assists.
“We needed some good defence, some physical play, good sticks, one-on-ones, good offence,” Dubois said. “We needed a lot out there tonight and we did a good job of that.”
NHL-leading scorer Leon Draisaitl had a pair of power-play goals early in the third period for Edmonton (11-4-0), giving him 17 goals and 33 points on the season.
Connor McDavid, second in league scoring, assisted on both goals to up his point total to 29 and keep alive his streak of notching at least a point in every one of his team’s 15 games this season.
“I don’t think we were as bad as maybe it looked on the score sheet, but if you go down 4-0 you’re probably not going to win,” Draisaitl said.
Mikko Koskinen stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced before being replaced by Stuart Skinner to start the third period. The backup made eight saves. The loss put Koskinen’s record at 9-2-0.
It was Edmonton’s last game of a five-game road trip that saw the team only win twice (2-3-0).
“I didn’t like our game as much in St. Louis (but) we got a win there,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said. “And we came in here and you could tell we were low on energy to finish the trip. To get down early like that and chase the game, we just didn’t have the oomph to come back.”
A rematch between the teams goes Thursday in Edmonton. It was the first meeting between the clubs since the Jets swept the Oilers in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Winnipeg led 1-0 after the first period and 4-0 following the second.
Lowry got the Jets on the scoreboard at 2:09 of the first period with a blooper goal Koskinen should have stopped.
The Jets forward got the puck near his blue line and headed toward the netminder. He took a shot from the top of the circle and the puck hit Koskinen, went under him and started dribbling toward the goal line. He tried to swipe it away with his stick but missed.
Winnipeg, which has won three straight at Canada Life Centre, outshot the visitors 12-9 in the opening period in front of 13,473 fans.
Both goalies made some tough saves in the second.
After Koskinen stopped Morrissey on a close shot during a power play, Ehlers scored at even strength with a slap shot from the top of the circle to make it 2-0 at 6:59.
Sixteen seconds later, Draisaitl was dinged with a four-minute minor for high sticking and Winnipeg took advantage when Dubois redirected a Morrissey shot for his ninth goal of the season at 10:01.
Koskinen was screened for Scheifele’s goal with 38 seconds remaining in the period.
Winnipeg penalties proved costly early in the final frame.
Andrew Copp was called for tripping at 1:19 and Logan Stanley took a boarding penalty at 2:26.
Draisaitl scored his first goal six seconds into the two-man advantage at 2:32. His second goal at 3:38 was initially waved off for goalie interference, but Tippett challenged and it was determined the Oilers player had been pushed into Hellebuyck.
Hellebuyck made a key save with 5:05 left when Jesse Puljujarvi took a shot just outside the crease.
Connor scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season into an empty net with 1:37 remaining.