Jets’ Dominic Toninato scores game-winning goal against Oilers in Game 1 after being inserted into the roster
The Jets were considered big underdogs in their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Oilers, especially in Game 1, because they were. keyless forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nikolaj Ehlers.
Instead, the team skated with a 4-1 victory thanks to a masterful net performance by birthday boy Connor Hellebuyck and a match winner by a guy who signed up with these two pillars.
Dominic Toninato, who had a long and winding path to play in 2021, deflected a shot past Oilers goalie Mike Smith for the winner. But no one – except Toninanto, who said he raised his stick and feared he would look stupid if the goal didn’t hold – knew it had happened initially. The NHL’s eyes in the sky must have alerted the people of Edmonton that this was a good goal.
“It was an exciting time,” said Toninato of his first NHL playoff scorer; he only has five regular season goals in the NHL. “I’m just happy to help the team. It was a good team win tonight. But it was only one win in four, so we had to be ready for the next game.”
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The game unfolded just over halfway through the third period. Toninato deflected Logan Stanley’s point shot off the post and into the camera inside the net. The washer came out steeply.
“I couldn’t really see the original shot. I knew Dom had his stick on it, but the sound he made sounded like a pole,” Stanley recalls. “I was sort of in the corner and the buzzer went off and I thought there was a scrimmage near our bench. As I got closer, the guys are partying, so I threw my arms in. the air and I gave Dom a big hug. It’s a big goal for us. “
Jets captain Blake Wheeler was on the bench.
“It looked like from the bench he hit the bar and then obviously we have monitors on the bench so they flashed the replay pretty quickly. I would say after about 10 seconds we knew it was. was there, ”he said.
Toninato played the last two games of the regular season for his only NHL action in 2021. He spent the majority of the season on the taxi team, but played three games with the AHL Jets team in Manitoba. . The 27-year-old also had COVID-19 in November. With that comes the tests necessary to receive clearance to play, and there was some concern when he arrived in Winnipeg. He sat down a bit but, according to Toninato, “it wasn’t what we initially thought so I was able to come back much earlier”.
Hellebuyck, who turned 28 on Wednesday, made 32 saves and allowed Jesse Puljujarvi just one second-half goal.
“Today has been an exciting day for me,” said Hellebuyck. “Everyone around the rink makes me really happy on my birthday and it’s the perfect way to celebrate it. I just thought it was a good team game tonight. Our details were right and our offensive play came when it needed to be. It was a big team win tonight. “
“We think we have the best goalie in the league which gives us a ton of confidence and it’s his birthday he’s getting a little older. You’re going to have to start bothering him about his age,” he said. Wheeler said with a smirk. “But, you know, a great Connor game. From our point of view, we’re just trying to give him a vision of the puck and let him see the puck and he’s a nice goalie when he can see it.
It was a big win for the Jets as they kept Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl off the scoresheet. The dynamic duo were only able to muster two and four shots on the net, respectively. Winnipeg will look to get things done in Game 2 on Friday night.