Nikolaj Ehlers scored his second goal of the game at 9:13 in overtime, completing a massive rally for the Winnipeg Jets who erased a three-goal deficit in the third period to beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 on Sunday night and take a 3-0 lead in their opening-round playoff series.
Mathieu Perreault, Blake Wheeler and Josh Morrissey each scored for Winnipeg in a stretch of 3:03 of the third to tie it and send it to overtime. The Jets can sweep the series Monday night with Game 4 in Edmonton.
“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.”
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Leon Draisaitl had two goals and an assist for Edmonton, Zack Kassian and Jujhar Khaira also scored and Connor McDavid had three assists in the game played in front of no fans at Bell MTS Place, where the Oilers went 4-1 in the regular season.
“It was just too damn bad our fans weren’t in the building because that would have been something,” Wheeler said.
“The roof would come off this building,” Perreault added. “It would have been absolutely insane.”
Connor Hellebuyck made 44 saves for the Jets. Mike Smith stopped 32 shots for the Oilers, who couldn’t hold on to their big third-period lead.
“It’s disappointing because we haven’t been that team all year,” said Oilers coach Dave Tippett. “We’ve been a pretty good team at closing things out.”
The Jets were bolstered by the return of Ehlers, who hadn’t played since April 24. He sat out the last 11 games of the regular season with an upper-body injury.
“I don’t take for granted how great of a player he is and what he means to our team,” Wheeler said. “But 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 have that speed and not just get by, make a huge impact.
“We were counting down the days to get him back. He just means so much to our team. He’s the type of guy that can flip a game on its head and can make a huge play for you when you need it. And lo and behold, he’s the guy tonight.”
The Oilers jumped out to their most aggressive start of the series, taking their first lead of the series since early in Game 1.
But Ehlers got Winnipeg on the board when he scored on a power play at 17:13 of the second, launching a wrist shot into the far corner past Smith. Barely a minute later, Kassian restored Edmonton’s two-goal advantage.
The Oilers padded their lead at 4:43 of the third when Khaira, with his back to the net, deflected in a shot by Adam Larsson.
But the Jets stormed back, starting with Perreault’s slap shot on a power play at 11:41 of the third — sparking the three-goal outburst.
“We don’t give up,” Ehlers said. “That’s what’s so fun playing on this team. After the OT winner, you could see the joy and it’s a wonder no one got injured at the end there during the celebration.”