Don’t look now, but the Edmonton Oilers are down three games to none in their first round playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets.
Winnipeg seized the series by the throat thanks to a dazzling overtime victory Sunday, a win that saw them erase a three-goal deficit in the third period to grab eventual glory.
Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers had two goals, including the 5-4 OT winner.
“You always dream of scoring these kind of goals,” Ehlers said. “But, for me tonight, it was a matter of getting out there, play simple and use my speed as much as possible. But this was a team effort.”
Mathieu Perreault, Blake Wheeler, and Josh Morrissey had goals in the third period, scoring within the span of 3:03 to draw the game to a tie and set the Jets up for a possible series sweep on Monday night.
For Ehlers, it was a particularly magical night. He hadn’t played in a game since April 24, suffering an upper body injury following a Jake Muzzin hit. His return to the lineup couldn’t have come at a better time or timed out a better result, even as head coach Paul Maurice tried to temper expectations with a dose of reality.
Realistically, though, Winnipeg anticipated – and got – a lot.
“I hate to say it, but it’s expected. I don’t take for granted how great of a player he is and what he means to our team,” said Wheeler. “It is very difficult to do what he did tonight – to miss the amount of time he did and to come into a game of that magnitude and that speed – and not just get by but to make a huge impact.”
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck also lived up to expectations, making 44 saves for the win. Mike Smith had 32 saves for the Oilers.
For Edmonton, however, expectations have largely been tossed out the window. The Oilers did jump out to their first series lead since early in Game One and Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl got rolling and then some, accounting for a combined six points after not finding the board in the previous two games.
But it was the Jets that roared back, that refused to quit, that didn’t let the energy of Edmonton get the better of them.
And on Monday, it could be the Jets that defy expectations and put this whole thing to bed.