Neal Scores in First Preseason Game with Oilers

EDMONTON — James Neal made an early impact with the Edmonton Oilers as they kicked off preseason play with a 2-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

Neal had a goal in his first appearance with his new team following an off-season trade from the rival Calgary Flames and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored for the Oilers (1-0).

Defencemen Joel Persson and Oscar Klefbom had two assists apiece, while goalies Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells made a combined 25 saves to split the shutout.

It took almost 16 minutes to get the game’s first goal as a Persson point shot hit Neal in front and he spun around and put it past Jets starting goalie Eric Comrie.

Calgary Flames James Neal
Former Calgary Flames left wing James Neal (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Edmonton had 12 first-period shots to Winnipeg’s 10 on Skinner.

Wells came in to replace Skinner, who made 18 saves, in the Oilers net midway through the second.

The Oilers made it 2-0 with just 16 seconds left in the middle frame as Nugent-Hopkins, who had a career-high 28 goals last season, deftly moved to the backhand before beating Comrie up high to the glove side.

There was no scoring in the third period.

The Oilers are back at it on Tuesday in Vancouver against the Canucks. The Jets return to action on Wednesday, when they host the Minnesota Wild.

Notes: It was the first of seven pre-season games for each team… Oilers captain Connor McDavid has been fully practising with the team following a knee injury suffered at the end of last season. He has expressed interest in playing in at least one exhibition game but is leaving that decision up to medical staff… Both teams had several players in Monday’s match who weren’t with the organization at the end of last season. For the Oilers, that list included Neal, Riley Sheahan, Josh Archibald, Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas and Persson. For the Jets, new to the team in Monday’s game were defencemen Anthony Bitetto, Gabriel Bourque and Neal Pionk, and forwards Andrei Chibisov, Mark Letestu and Joona Luoto.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press