The Winnipeg Jets end the 65-minute stalemate in the shootout after Mike Smith held the line for the Oilers with 23 saves
WINNIPEG, MB - Next goal wins.
In this case, there were none.
Netminder Mike Smith held the line as long as he could for the Oilers, making 23 saves in 65 minutes of action, but the offence couldn't click in a full-game stalemate that ended 1-0 in favour of the Winnipeg Jets in the shootout.
Despite a quiet offensive night on both sides, the chances were aplenty. The game culminated in an end-to-end overtime that featured multiple 2-on-1's and breakaways going either way before Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor put the game on ice in the shootout after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid failed to convert.
"It was a good hockey game," Smith said post-game. "Both teams were fighting for air out there."
To the stalwart netminder, a point's a point and there was no fault in his teammate's efforts.
"I think we did a lot of good things tonight," Smith continued. "I was happy with our teams' grind tonight. We really ground it out and found a way to get a big point on the road."
Smith continued a trend for the Oilers of receiving confident goaltending regardless of who's called upon between the pipes by going toe-to-toe with Winnipeg's Connor Hellebuyck in the opposing crease after Mikko Koskinen made a combined 74 saves in two-straight victories for the club prior to tonight's tight-knit affair.
"We know what both of them are made of right now," defenceman Oscar Klefbom said of his team's netminders. "It's going to be key having both of those guys running during the season. You need two good goalies to have a good run here."
In the end, despite chance after chance that extended into the sudden death frame, it was an off night for the Oilers who had their two-game win streak snapped to fall to 7-1-1 on the season.
"It was kind of a mucky game," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "Both teams have some chances and the goaltenders played well. We came in here wanting to play a hard road game and not give up any, and it would've been nice to get the one when we needed to push us ahead. We just couldn't get the extra point."
Alongside Smith, the Oilers penalty kill came up at the crucial moments, going 4-for-4 to improve to 15-for-15 on the road this campaign.
Despite outshooting Winnipeg 7-2 in the opening 20 minutes, the amount of missed opportunities and open looks from the home side told a different tale of the tape with the Jets accounting for the majority of chances early in the game.
Forward James Neal spoke pre-game to the confidence the entire team felt with whoever was given the next opportunity by Tippett, who elected to keep following the two-in, two-out strategy by electing to go with Smith tonight.
For the last two games, it was Koskinen giving the Oilers every chance to win with stellar performances. On Sunday, it was Smith who kept the door shut with a number of big saves on two Jets power plays.
The breakthrough seemed to have come for the Jets midway through the final frame after Blake Wheeler found space and ripped a wrister past Smith for the one-goal lead, but the play went to review and was called back from an offside seconds before to give the Oilers some respite.
You can only thank Smith so many times for his stalwart defending of the crease, but the 37-year-old and the Oilers special teams did what they had to do kill off their fourth man-disadvantage as the game struck seven minutes remaining.
McDavid had the puck on his stick to end it in overtime on a breakway with a minute left, but couldn't bury the decisive opportunity before the game eventually went to the shootout that was ended by Laine.
"For us it was a good point," Neal said. "We'll take it and regroup for Minnesota."
The Oilers next game is slated for Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild.