It was the Connor Show on New Year’s Eve in Edmonton.
No, not Connor McDavid, unfortunately for Oilers fans. Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck put up a dominant performance, leading the Jets to a 2-1 victory in a game in which they were nearly doubled in shots by the home team.
“When you’re clearly half a step behind a lot of the night, your goalie gives you that confidence that ‘OK, we’ll get going eventually,'” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “We started to skate better at times and then when there was a breakdown, he was there for us. The guys have a tremendous amount of confidence in him.”
Despite being on the second leg of a back-to-back, the Oilers were the better team on Saturday night. At even strength, they threw 48 shot attempts on goal compared to Winnipeg’s 26, and they dominated in terms of high-danger scoring chances with 11 while the Jets had just three.
The difference was Hellebuyck making 31 saves while Jack Campbell allowed two goals on 17 shots. Winnipeg opened the scoring in the first period on the power play, and just minutes after the Oilers finally tied the game in the third period, they regained their lead when Kyle Connor deflected a Neal Pionk point shot through Campbell.
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“It seems like when we need him the most it seems like he’s there,” Kyle Connor said of Hellebuyck. “Clutch times, he’s a clutch player. He’s by far one of the best players in the league, he’s a leader in that locker room too, and he had some good stuff tonight.”
There was a lot to like about that performance from the Oilers, as it was one of the strongest defensive efforts the team has put forward all season. But just as Stuart Skinner stole them a win against the Calgary Flames a few nights ago, the Oilers had two points taken from them by Hellebuyck.
It was an unfortunate result, but the process was there. The more the Oilers play like they did against the Jets, the better.

THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY


Parting notes…

  • The two goals against on 17 shots represented the ninth time in 17 starts this season that Jack Campbell has posted a save percentage below .900 in a game. Edmonton’s next four games are against playoff-calibre teams (the Seattle Kraken, New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche, and Los Angeles Kings). Can they give Stuart Skinner all of those starts and wait until January 11 when they play the Anaheim Ducks to get Campbell back into the net?
  • Connor McDavid was held off the scoresheet in the loss. It was the first time he didn’t record a single point in a game since all the way back on November 23 when the Oilers lost to the New York Islanders. During the 17-game point streak between that game and this one with Winnipeg, McDavid scored 16 goals and 37 points.
  • Klim Kostin crashed awkwardly into the boards right at the end of the game and needed some help getting up off the ice. Hopefully he doesn’t miss any time. Kostin has scored three goals in his past two games and going on the shelf right in the middle of a heater would be terrible timing.