Jets continue wild-card hunt at Oilers

NHL Hockey

Cody Eakin picked a good time to score his first goal for the Winnipeg Jets.

Eakin, acquired at the trade deadline from Vegas, broke a tie at 11:33 of the third period Monday night as the Jets rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat visiting Arizona 4-2.

That pushed the Jets (36-28-6, 78 points) to the top of the Western Conference’s wild-card playoff standings. Winnipeg, which has won three in a row, opens a three-game trip Wednesday night in Edmonton against the Oilers.

“That’s a big game by us, being down two to start,” Eakin said. “They’re a hungry team. We ended up stopping the bleeding there and finishing it off the right way. … It’s been a while, so to chip in in that way, you’re doing good work out there. It felt good.”

Linemate Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and two assists, including one on Eakin’s winner, and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves for Winnipeg.

“We’ve been able to create some good chemistry,” Ehlers said of his line with Eakin and Patrik Laine. “But we still have some things we need to clean up. But it’s nice to see that it’s going the right way and we’re making plays.”

It was the 1,598th NHL game coached by the Jets’ Paul Maurice, passing Ken Hitchcock for fifth place in the league’s all-time list.

The Jets also got a boost from the return of forward Adam Lowry, who missed the previous 20 games with an upper-body injury. Lowry had a team-high four hits in just more than 10 1/2 minutes of ice time.

The Oilers are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss Monday to visiting Vegas that dropped Edmonton three points behind the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights.

Alex Chiasson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for the Oilers (37-24-9, 83 points). Nugent-Hopkins extended his points streak to six games (four goals, seven assists).

Edmonton played without captain Connor McDavid because of an illness. It was the seventh game McDavid has missed this season after being out from Feb. 8-21 with a quad injury.

“We are just not playing very well as a group right now,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said. “I thought we had addressed some things (Monday) morning, but our execution is so poor in a lot of different situations. We can’t continue to play like that and feel like we are a good team.”

Still, the Oilers are 4-1-1 in their past six games.

“We’ve been able to get points because of our two goalies (Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith), but going down the stretch, you can’t rely on them to make 40 or 50 saves a night,” Chiasson said. “There’s a disconnection in our game right now. There was a stretch where we were all five guys going up the ice, then another five breaking out together, forechecking together. Now we’re reading to see what one guy’s going to do, then reacting.”

Edmonton beat Winnipeg 3-2 in the last meeting, Feb. 29, as league scoring leader Leon Draisaitl tallied twice.

–Field Level Media

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