Jets rally to ruin Oilers' home opener

The SportsXchange

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That formula was unfortunate for the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. With a new head coach and nine new faces in the lineup, expectations were high for their home opener against the Winnipeg Jets.

Instead, 16,839 fans watched the same game they've seen a hundred times in the past seven seasons as the Oilers gave up the final three goals and lost 5-4 to the Jets at Rexall Place.

"We had that game in the bag," Oilers center Taylor Hall said after his team blew a 4-2 lead. "We gave them a couple of chances and they put it in. I thought overall we had pretty good energy. ... We did a lot of good things, but in this league a lot of don't translate to wins."

Michael Frolik cued the Jets' comeback with two goals, cutting the lead to 4-3 late in the second and scoring the-game winner at 14:58 of the third. Jacob Trouba scored a soft goal from just inside the blue line at 11:06 of the third to tie it.

Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk struggled, making just 23 saves. Of the five Winnipeg goals, three were shots he might have saved.

"I was a little too excited and moving a bit too much and didn't have my feet set," said Dubnyk, adding Trouba's goal was a tough one. "I started to bring my hand up to catch it and it just dove, but it doesn't matter, it shouldn't go in regardless.

"I have to be better. I have to give these guys a better opportunity to win the game. I thought we played well enough. We generated lots and played well. If we get four goals in a game, it's definitely my job to get points at the end of it."

Instead, Winnipeg emerged with the points.

"That's a huge thing -- to come back like that in a game like that shows a lot of character," said Jets center Mark Scheifele, who scored a goal. "We don't want to get down like that, but we know we can push back and have the guys to do that."

For Frolik, his first regular-season game as a Jet went nearly perfectly.

"It feels nice," he said. "And for our team, it's a great comeback. We battled hard in the end and came away with the win."

The Oilers started well enough, with Luke Gazdic making a solid first impression, scoring the first goal of the game on the first shift of his NHL career. He sent a backhand into the net to make it 1-0 at 2:12 of the first.

The joy from that was short-lived, however, as Winnipeg tied the score on its first shot of the game, a snap shot from Scheifele that Dubnyk didn't handle well. Dubnyk went down early and was too deep in his net when the shot went high into the far corner.

The Jets made it 2-1 on the 100th goal of Bryan Little's career, a stick-side wrister after a Ryan Smyth turnover, at 16:12 of the first. However, Edmonton took a 2-2 tie into the first intermission after Boyd Gordon deflected a point shot past Ondrej Pavelec at 18:08 on the power play.

Ales Hemsky made a highlight rush, dancing through three Jets defenders before putting a laser beam in the far corner to make it 3-2 Edmonton early in the second.

Jesse Joensuu's power-play goal at 7:53 of the second gave the Oilers their first two-goal cushion of the night.

Four of the seven players making their debut as Oilers picked up points: Gadzic, Gordon and Joensuu had goals, while Will Acton recorded an assist.

Pavelec stopped 34 of Edmonton's 38 shots.

NOTES: Dallas Eakins, who had two stints with Winnipeg during his playing career, made his debut as the Oilers' coach. ... Tuesday's game was the first between the Jets and Oilers in Edmonton in 17 years, since before the Winnipeg franchise moved to Phoenix in 1996. ... The Oilers last qualified for the postseason in 2006, while the Jets franchise last made the playoffs as the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007. ... Eric O'Dell (one goal, two assists), Devin Setoguchi (one goal, two assists), Eric Tangradi (three assists), and Jacob Trouba (three assists) tied for the Winnipeg lead in points during the preseason. ... The Oilers selected their alternate captains at the morning skate, all six of them. The A's will go to Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nick Schultz and Smyth. ... Ben Eager was a healthy scratch for the Oilers.
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