WINNIPEG — Laurent Brossoit relished being back on the ice and it showed.
Brossoit made 26 saves as the Winnipeg Jets blanked the Edmonton Oilers 5-0 in pre-season action on Monday.
“I wanted to play 60 (minutes),” said Brossoit, who was injured during the second round of the Vegas Golden Knights’ playoff run to a Stanley Cup championship last season.
“I wanted to get the familiarity of playing 60 and focusing for 60 and even the routine for 60. I think it’s important just to start to have that routine feel more and more normal.”
Brossoit, who played for the Jets from 2018-21, was signed as a free agent.
Winnipeg’s new top line also showed a glimpse of what’s to come.
Centre Mark Scheifele and right-winger Gabriel Vilardi set up Kyle Connor for a power-play goal late in the first period.
Scheifele sent the puck to Vilardi at the side of the net and he used a no-look backhand pass across the front to Connor, who beat Calvin Pickard with a high shot at 15:06.
Vilardi was part of a trade that sent centre Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Los Angeles Kings, who also gave up forwards Alex Iafollo and Rasmus Kupari.
“I think it’s more just reading the net-front and where he is,” Vilardi said of his pass to Connor. “It’s something we worked on in practice. Scheif’s really good at drawing everyone into him and pulling them towards him.”
Neal Pionk, David Gustafsson, Morgan Barron and Kyle Capobianco each recorded third-period goals. Vladislav Namestnikov picked up a pair of assists.
“We're looking for chemistry,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said of the staff’s focus in the game. “We're looking at that top line to see how Gabe's going to fit in there. It looked good tonight.”
Pickard stopped 25 shots and was impressed by the effort of the young players in front of him.
“It’s always good to get work. I got that tonight,” said Pickard, who grew up in Winnipeg and played for Bakersfield of the AHL last season.
“Obviously, it kind of fell off at the end. You’d like to have maybe a couple of those goals, but it’s still the first game of the year.”
The Jets iced some of their veterans, while the Oilers left stars such as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl at home. The pair hasn’t yet played an exhibition game, including Sunday’s match in Edmonton that the Jets won 2-1 in a shootout.
The Jets had two power plays in the opening period, but it was the Oilers who had an 11-8 advantage in shots on goal.
Some missed opportunities were the theme of the second frame.
Pickard whipped out his glove to stop forward Gustafsson’s shot midway through the period, and Vilardi went wide on a breakaway with a couple minutes remaining.
Brossoit denied Oilers defenceman Cam Dineen’s low point shot, followed by forward Raphael Lavoie making an unsuccessful wraparound attempt.
“We were competing well and then I thought we ran out of gas a little bit in that third period,” Edmonton head coach Jay Woodcroft said.
“We started to turn the puck over and they made us pay for some mistakes. We were in the box three times that period and it just took more and more juice out of us.”
Pionk made it 2-0 at 1:27 of the third when his point shot went through some traffic in front of the net and may have bounced off an Edmonton defender.
Gustafsson redirected in a Logan Stanley point shot at 10:09, followed by Barron sending a high shot from the slot over Pickard four minutes later and Capobianco’s high shot on the power play going in at 16:21.
True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns Canada Life Centre and the Jets, announced Monday $13 million in renovations this season for the downtown Winnipeg arena. It includes an extension of the main concourse and more food and beverage offerings … The Jets will play Canadian teams 15 times in the regular season, including seven games at home. The first match is Winnipeg's season opener in Calgary against the Flames on Oct. 11. A Canadian club doesn't visit Winnipeg until the Oilers travel for a game on Nov. 30.
The Jets host the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, while the Oilers return home to face the Vancouver Canucks on the same night.
Judy Owen, The Canadian Press