The Edmonton Oilers got badly outplayed in the first period, dominated the Winnipeg Jets in the second period and gave up a lead, only to come back and win a nail-biter in the third. Among the highlights was the play of Jesse Puljujarvi who took advantage of an opportunity on the Oilers top line and was one of the best players on the ice for either team.
Puljujarvi hadn’t potted a goal yet but he’d certainly played well enough to get a promotion. On Sunday, while he didn’t score, but he was arguably responsible for three of the Oilers four goals and ended up with one assist, securing his spot alongside Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Tuesday when the Oilers face the Jets in a rematch.
As Oilers Now host and color commentary man for the Oilers, Bob Stauffer said, “Puljujarvi fans should be stoked! Played in straight lines, competitive, and helped drive things with RNH-McDavid.” After the game, Puljujarvi said, “I’m really happy to play in the best league in the world and be part of this team.”
When asked how his game has been different than in Finland, he said he’s been trying to adjust to the fact it’s the NHL and a smaller ice surface. He noted that playing with McDavid and others, he needs to change his game and just get better every year. “Just get your stick open,” he said. He knows it’s his job to support him and added, “When you work hard, good things happen. I try to support (McDavid) when he has the puck. I try to get open and skate even harder than him.”
When asked if he hit Nugent-Hopkins stick on the first goal, he didn’t know, but had a huge smile on his face.
This Was a Coming Out Game For Puljujarvi
With tons of pedigree over the past few years, the hope here is that Puljujarvi is simply a late bloomer. Even though he’d been playing well, this was a breakout game for Puljujarvi that will go a long way with the coach and his teammates. The trio of RNH, McDavid and Puljujarvi posted a 83 xGF% at 5v5 and were all over the ice.
Kyle Turris said of Puljujarvi, he was big and fast and finally starting to use his skill set to really become a better player in the league. Tippett agreed and said he kept playing the way he’s been playing all season and that’s all the coach was wanting to see out of him tonight. “He wants to be a really good player and he’s moving that direction in a hurry, ” Tippett said. He added that the player just seems more at ease and knows he’s good enough to play in the league he’s just going about and trying to prove it.
Puljujarvi ended the game with one assist and six shots on goal to lead the Oilers and had at least two really great chances created by going to the net. He earned himself third star of the night honors.
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