For the first time in four months after beating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in overtime at the SAP Center on Tuesday (April 5), the Edmonton Oilers are rising to second place in the Pacific Division.
With this win, the Oilers have overtaken the Los Angeles Kings to take second place, the highest in the division standings since December 6, 2021.
Mike Smith made 31 saves in a winning effort for the Oilers, who went 1-0 up in the third period. Connor McDavid scored the game-winning goal in overtime after Ryan Neugent-Hopkins equalized with just eight minutes left.
Emerging Oilers have now won five games in a row and are 11-2-1 from 8 March. Here are three takeaways for Tuesday’s big win:
Smith is increasing his game
After several months of misery, where he was injured or played poorly, Smith recently delivered his strongest goaltending of the season, and on Tuesday, he made the difference for his team.
The 40-year-old Netminder made a number of tough saves, first to keep Edmonton in a goal after leading the Thomas Hartl Sharks 1-0, then to overtime the game in a Nugent-Hopkins tie.
His best game of the game, however, had nothing to do with stopping a goal, but rather making one. After stopping a shot by Sharks Blueliner Brent Burns early in overtime, Smith made an incredible pass to Spring McDavid, a skilled puck-handler known for taking risks. Captain San Jose of Edmonton gathered the puck on the ice near the center, plunged into James Reimer alone, and buried the puck behind a shark netminder just 31 seconds after his sudden death.
Probably the best outing of 2021-22 for Smith was Cherry, who achieved the first star of the game. The play of the experienced player was encouraging, there was some cause for concern, as Smith was injured late in the third leg. Smith finished the game, but had a lot of track record of his injuries this season Surprised about his condition After the game.
Smith is now 5-1-1 at 2.57 goal average (GAA) and .921 save percentage (SV%) since March 16. He made his first 15 outs just as many wins as he has in his last seven starts. Season, a span where he was 5-8-1 with 3.57 GAA and .891 SV%.
McDavid’s goal has historical significance
The most important thing about McDavid’s goal, of course, was that it led the Oilers to victory. But beyond that, it carries great statistical significance.
Related: Oilers’ Draisaitl and McDavid could reach milestones before the end of the season
For starters, this increased McDavid’s run-scoring game run to at least one point 14; The Superstar Center has 12 goals and 15 assists during this streak. Most notably, it was the fourth overtime goal for him in 2021-22, setting a new Eulers singles-season benchmark. He shared the previous record of three with Andrew Cogliano (2007-08) and Leon Drysitel (2016-17 and 2018-19).
With 11 games left in Edmonton’s schedule, the NHL could equalize or set a single-season mark for the McDavid overtime goal; The current record has been completed on five occasions by Alex Galchenyuk (2016-17), Brad Merchand (2017-18), Steven Stamcos (2011-12), and Jonathan Touss (2015-16).
As he pursued his fourth career and second consecutive Art Ross Trophy, McDavid finished first in the NHL with 106 points, four more than the Florida Panthers’ second-placed Jonathan Hubardo.
No one is safe if the oiler is shorthand
Both goals came as per the rules while managing Edmonton on Tuesday. Hartl scored in the power-play in the first 15:32; Nugent-Hopkins responded with a short-handed goal in the third minute at 11:56.
Although Edmonton’s penalty kills have improved lately, after a dramatic expansion to 63.3 percent in 22 games between December 5 and February 9, it remains the worst in the 21st-ranked league of the season at 77.2 percent.
On the plus side, Edmonton now has nine short-handed goals (SHGs) in 2021-22, ranking fourth in the NHL. Seven different Oilers have scored this season when their team is led by Shorthand, Nujent-Hopkins and Evander Kane with two SHGs.
Kings Up Next
The Oilers started their three-game California road trip 2-0, ending on Thursday (April 7) at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles where they will face the aforementioned Kings in a hugely important game. While the LA would like to overtake Edmonton in the standings, the Oilers could strengthen their playoff positioning with a win, especially in control.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup Championship season.