Dominic Toninato’s first NHL playoff goal midway through the third period broke up a tie game and held up as the game winner as the visiting Winnipeg Jets claimed a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in their North Division first-round playoff series opener Wednesday night.
Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler — who both had two-point games — and Tucker Poolman also scored for the Jets, while goaltender Connor Hellebuyck celebrated his 28th birthday by making 32 saves.
Jesse Puljujarvi replied with Edmonton’s lone goal and goaltender Mike Smith stopped 18 shots. The Oilers’ dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who finished one-two in the league’s scoring race, was held without a point.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be Friday night, also in Edmonton.
It took a few moments to be noticed, but Toninato — who spent almost the whole season on the taxi squad before playing in the last two regular-season games — put the Jets ahead with 10:46 left in the third period. Logan Stanley launched a point shot that Toninato deflected. It went in and out of the net so quickly that it took video review to prove.
The Oilers, who won seven of the nine regular-season meetings between the teams, pushed furiously for the equalizer the rest of the way, but couldn’t solve Hellebuyck before Connor’s empty-net goal came with 1:47 remaining. Wheeler added another 32 seconds later.
Nate Thompson and Mark Scheifele both collected two assists in the victory.
After a low-event, feeling-out first period, the clubs traded goals 157 seconds apart in the middle of the second period.
Puljujarvi, playing his first career NHL playoff game, broke the scoreless deadlock at 8:24 of the frame. Dominik Kahun created a turnover, which eventually led to a Tyson Barrie point shot that was blocked, but Puljujarvi converted with the loose puck.
Despite the Oilers controlling play, Poolman drew the Jets even with a rebound goal. Smith couldn’t control the puck after making a save, and Poolman was on the spot to net the tying tally.
While the Oilers saw the return of forward Zack Kassian, who missed the final 11 games of the regular season, the Jets were without a pair of top-six forwards in Nikolaj Ehlers — who led Winnipeg with eight points in head-to-head action — and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
–Field Level Media