Giving rookie goaltender Stuart Skinner the start worked out pretty well for the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
Connor McDavid and Kyle Turris scored in the shootout as the Oilers emerged with a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
McDavid also scored in regulation and Skinner made 46 saves and was perfect on two shootout attempts to earn his second NHL win for the Oilers (12-4-0), who improved to 7-1-1 on home ice.
“I have been preparing for this for a long time and I thought the whole team played a fantastic game,” said Skinner, a 23-year-old Edmonton native selected in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. “It ranks pretty high. I am super-grateful for this moment.
“It was an exciting game. It was a hard-fought battle all night between both teams.”
Oilers head coach Dave Tippett was impressed with Skinner’s poise in a challenging game.
“He just looks like an NHL goaltender and plays like an NHL goaltender and tonight was a really good challenge for him coming off a tough game for the team in Winnipeg,” he said. “We needed a performance like that from our goaltender and he stepped up, right through the shootout. He did a heck of a job for us.”
Nikolaj Ehlers replied for the Jets (9-3-4) who had a three-game winning streak halted.
“I thought both teams were really good, I don’t think it was just a goaltender battle,” said Winnipeg starter Connor Hellebuyck, who made 31 saves. “I think every person on both teams was playing well. It almost had that playoff vibe to it and it was a grinder, two good teams going at it.”
There was no scoring in the first period with the Jets putting 17 shots on Skinner and the Oilers directing 10 on Hellebuyck. Skinner made the best save of the opening frame with 10 seconds remaining, stopping a point-blank shorthanded rebound by Andrew Copp.
It remained scoreless through 40 minutes, with the shots favouring the Jets 27-20.
The Jets finally broke the deadlock with 6:03 left in the third on their 33 shot of the contest as Ehlers beat Skinner high to the glove side from the top of the circle.
However, the Oilers came storming back just 28 seconds later as McDavid scored another highlight-reel goal as he danced through three Winnipeg defenders before beating Hellebuyck for his 11 of the year, extending his points streak to 16 games.
“It is great to score crazy goals like that, but even more impressive to score them in the timely manner he has been doing it to give our team the chance to win,” said Oilers forward Zach Hyman. “He is a special player, obviously.”
McDavid then unfortunately took a double-minor for high-sticking Mark Scheifele with 43.6 seconds left, but Edmonton was able to hang on and force extra time.
The Oilers had a heroic penalty kill in overtime to send the game to a shootout.
The Jets are right back at it on Friday in Vancouver against the Canucks. The Oilers remain home to host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
It was the second half of a home-and-home between the two teams, with the Jets winning the first chapter 5-2 on Tuesday in Winnipeg ... Out with injuries for the Oilers were forwards Derek Ryan (possible concussion) and Devin Shore (undisclosed) and goalie Mike Smith (lower body). Missing from the Jets lineup were forwards Paul Stastny (lower body) and Bryan Little (ear) ... The Oilers came into the game with the league’s top power-play unit (42.6 per cent) while Winnipeg had the second-worst league-penalty kill at 64.3 per cent.