For more than 56 minutes it looked like Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was going to make his pre-season debut with a shutout over the Edmonton Oilers.
But then a 3-0 lead turned into a 3-2 nail biter in less than half a minute and became a teaching moment.
“It’s about the details,” said Pavelec after Winnipeg held on for the win Tuesday.
“We’ve got a few young guys. It’s good for them. It’s a good experience for them that we have to be ready every shift. We’ve got to be focused all 60 minutes. You can see it today, it can cost you the game.”
It was a little sloppy but the Jets (1-1-1) brought a bit more of their A-team than the Oilers (1-1-1) and it showed, particularly in the second period.
Michael Frolik, on the power play, and Carl Klingberg scored for the Jets with Eric Tangradi assisting on both.
It looked like the game was all but over when tough guy Anthony Peluso added another for Winnipeg at 15:35 in the third.
The Jets were still patting themselves on the back when Mitchell Moroz put the Oilers on the board less than a minute later with an assist from Philip Larson.
Then Larson banged in his own less than half a minute later but despite some serious pressure the Oilers couldn’t even it up.
Frolik, one of two NHL veterans the Jets added in the off-season to bring some depth to their offence, said it’s always nice to get that first goal.
“Every goal feels nice and you’ve got . . . that monkey off your back,” he said.
But, like Pavelec, he said the game was a good reminder of what not to do when the team let its focus fade in the third.
“We have to learn from it.”
The Oilers played former Dallas Stars’ netminder Richard Bachman and he was one of the positives Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins took out of the game.
“He had an excellent game,” he said of Bachman, signed as a free agent this summer.
“We know he’s a good goalie but that was a surprising performance for me. We thought he held us in there, especially in the second period when I think they outchanced us two to one.”
The Jets were minus their top scoring line of Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd but Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane both played. Kane missed the final minutes with stomach cramps but coach Claude Noel said he seems OK.
Except for the end of the third, the more experienced Jets brought a lot more traffic to the Edmonton net than the Oilers managed to bring to the other end of the ice.
“That’s kind of the danger but kind of the good as well of the exhibition games,” said Eakins.
“There can be a mismatch in the lineup and your team can hang in there with them and you want to see how hard your guys will push against those players.”
Winnipeg’s next game is Thursday against new division rival Minnesota. The Jets have yet to make deep cuts from their camp roster, trimming only 10 players last week.
Eakins was applauded by Winnipeg fans who remember his time with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, where he finished his playing career before turning to coaching.
He even played a couple of games with the old Winnipeg Jets just before they relocated to Phoenix.
“It’s nice,” he said. “This is a city where I’ve spent a lot of time . . . and I’ve always got a soft spot in my heart for Winnipeg.”