With a victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, the Edmonton Oilers punched out their sixth win in their last seven games and their third straight on the road.
The Oilers took the 3-0 triumph after the contest was delayed an hour due to the need for COVID-19 re-testing. Edmonton put Jesse Puljujarvi and goalie Mikko Koskinen on the COVID Protocol list and that put a wrinkle in the final game of their four-game road swing.
But it didn’t impact how they played the game.
Edmonton found more scoring from their defence, with Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie finding twine. Jujhar Khaira had the other Oilers goal, while goalie Mike Smith made 38 saves for the shutout.
“Everyone wants to chip in,” said Khaira. “The guys on the third and fourth line, they’re not going into the game thinking they’re not going to score. They’re trying to produce as well. If anything we just take some pressure off the top guys that produce day in and day out.”
Things didn’t look so hot for Edmonton to start the season.
The Oilers got out of the gate on a 3-6 run, but they’re turning things around at exactly the right time. And, like Khaira said, everyone’s chipping in.
Defencemen have scored five of their past six goals, with Nurse making one impressive showing after another. He skated 24:38 Thursday and is now the first Oilers blueliner since Paul Coffey to net six goals in the opening 16 games of a season.
For Smith, that’s meant giving up one goal in the last six periods. He’s 2-0 since returning from injury, with a 0.50 goals against average and a .985 save percentage. His goose egg on Thursday was his 40th career shutout, a mark only 45 other NHL goalies have matched.
“I feel great,” said Smith, whose 39th birthday is next month. “Every year I’ve gone home at the end of the year and found out little things I can improve on. I’m always looking to find ways to get better. Until I lose that drive to get better and play a long time in this league, I’ll keep playing and keep doing what I can to help this team win.”
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had an assist Thursday, both helping on Barrie’s third period power play marker, but they were by no means forced to carry the run of play.
And that’s really almost the best part of this Oilers win, as their depth came through yet again and they proved they have what it takes to put Ws on the board.
Pic: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images