Ben Scrivens has been looking for the opportunity to prove that he's a No. 1-caliber goaltender in the NHL.
It didn't happen with the Toronto Maple Leafs or with the Los Angeles Kings. But Wednesday, in his fourth game with the Edmonton Oilers, Scrivens made himself noticed in a major way.
Scrivens stopped all 59 shots the San Jose Sharks poured on him in a 3-0 shutout. It's the most saves by a goalie in a regular-season shutout in the expansion era. The previous record was 54 saves by the Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith on April 3, 2012.
"You try to stay in the moment," Scrivens said Thursday during an interview with NHL Live. "Obviously San Jose is an extremely talented hockey club. They're notorious for their fast starts, so we knew we were going to have to weather the storm early, which we did, and we were able to carry that on through. We got an early goal from Justin Schultz and then hang on until we got some insurance from Ebs [Jordan Eberle] and [Taylor] Hall later on."
Only two other shutouts saw a goalie make more saves than Scrivens and both were in Stanley Cup Playoff games. The Buffalo Sabres' Dominik Hasek made 70 saves in a four-overtime 1-0 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, and Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche made 63 saves in a triple-overtime 1-0 win against the Florida Panthers in the clinching Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup Final.
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens set an expansion-era record by shutting out the San Jose Sharks with 59 saves. (Photo: Getty Images)
The 59 saves also are the most allowed by the Oilers in franchise history; the previous mark was 53 allowed in a game against the New York Rangers on March 17, 1993.
Nor did Scrivens shut out just any team. The Sharks entered the night averaging 2.96 goals per game, have two of the top 16 goal-scorers in the League and have three players ranked among the top 21 in points.
"They generate a lot of their offense by throwing pucks to the net and they've got guys who can work magic out of scrambles and pressure situations," Scrivens said. "I thought we did a good job of collapsing in front and if there was a second opportunity, there wasn't usually a third and a fourth. That's what you face when you play San Jose. They're an extremely gifted hockey club. We were very fortunate to come up with a win."
You also don't get a shutout without a goalie having a strong night. When that goalie has to face 59 shots, he needs to be nearly superhuman.
"[Scrivens] was on, obviously," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I've seen that kid stop a lot of pucks. I've watched him develop in the [ECHL]. He was up and down with our team with the [AHL Toronto] Marlies, and he's turned into an NHL goaltender. I have a history with him and I'm very proud of his development and where he is today."
Scrivens made 20 saves in the first period, but didn't think he'd make that many in the entire game. He conceded after his performance that he had an "awful, awful warm-up," during which he thinks he made no more than 10 saves.
"You don't put too much stock into it," Scrivens said. "You don't put yourself in a bad state mentally before the game even started. It's always the goalie mentality of everything is water under the bridge immediately after it happens and it's just on to the next save."
The Sharks put 22 shots on net in the second, giving Scrivens 42 saves in 40 minutes; the most saves he'd ever made in a game previously was 45 as a member of the Maple Leafs in a 6-5 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on April 3, 2012.
He "only" had to make 17 stops in the third to finish his fourth shutout of the season and sixth of his 55-game NHL career.
Among the Sharks feeling the most frustrated are Brent Burns, who had a team-high eight shots on goal, Tommy Wingels, who had six shots, and Brad Stuart and Patrick Marleau, who had five each.
"Hats off to the goaltender," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He was tremendous. Probably First, Second and Third Star [of the game]. If he wasn't, he deserved it. Heck of a performance. In all my years in the League I don't think I've seen that, so give him credit."