EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Connor Helleybuyck made 32 saves on his 28th birthday, Dominic Toninato broke a tie midway through the third period and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.
“Today has been an exciting day for me,” Hellebuyck said. “Everyone around the rink has been making me feel real happy about my birthday. This is the perfect way to celebrate it. And I just thought it was a good team game tonight.
“Our details were right and I thought our offensive game came when it needed to.”
Playing just his third game for Winnipeg, Toninato tipped in Logan Stanley’s blast from the blue line, but the puck flew out so quickly it wasn’t immediately signaled a goal. The 27-year-old Toninato made his debut in the second-to-last game of the regular season.
“I thought it was initially in,” Toninato said. “I actually rose my stick right away, but then the play kept going. I was like, ‘Oh no, now I’m going to look kind of dumb.’ And then, luckily I got back to the bench and the guys said it was in, so it was a good feeling.”
Tucker Poolman tied it midway through the second, and Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler added empty-netters for Winnipeg in its first playoff meeting with Edmonton since 1990.
Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi scored his first playoff goal in his NHL postseason debut. Mike Smith made 18 saves.
Connor McDavid said he and his Oilers teammates needed to make things more difficult for Hellebuyck.
“I think we can do a better job being hard on him, getting bodies there,” McDavid said. “We had that in spurts. Other times he was able to catch it and the play was done.
“As forwards, we’ve got to do a better job of getting there and bringing traffic to him.”
No fans were allowed in Rogers Place, but Alberta Health provided an exemption for a dozen front-line health workers to attend.
Game 2 is Friday night in Edmonton.
NOTES: Wheeler’s goal and assist gave him a franchise-leading 30 career playoff points. … Jets forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois (undisclosed) and Nikolaj Ehlers (upper-body) were scratched. … Oilers forward Zach Kassian returned to the lineup after sitting out 11 games with a lower-body injury.
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