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GAME STORY: Oilers 2, Penguins 1 (OT)

Mike Smith backstopped his club with an incredible 51-save performance and Leon Draisaitl scored the game-winner in the Oilers victory over the Penguins

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

PITTSBURGH, PA - We already knew who would be the one to 'steel' the show in Pittsburgh.

Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby. Leon Draisaitl or Evgeni Malkin.

With the abundance of superstar firepower from both sides - generational talents and their wicked sidekicks - this was the predicted tale.

Not quite.

This game story begins and ends with Mike Smith.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Post-Game at PIT 11.02.19

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The Oilers return to Rogers Place to face the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:08 PM MST.

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The keeper was brilliant in the first period, masterful in the second, unbelievable in the third, and willed his Oilers - who were out-shot 52-28 when all was said and done - to a 2-1 OT victory thanks to a Draisaitl winner to achieve McDavid's first-ever win against Crosby's Penguins.

The battle-tested 37-year-old produced save after save: the blocker stop on Justin Schultz; all four first-period pucks from Teddy Blueger; the one-timer from Kris Letang and subsequent rebound courtesy of Crosby; and the skate stop on Jake Guentzel's goalmouth redirection.

He was a perfect 39-for-39 at even strength and 11-for-11 on five penalty kills, with the only blemish being a shorthanded goal against by Brian Dumoulin.

"He was our best player by far," said Draisaitl, who scored his League-leading 13th of the campaign.

"He was unbelievable. He was calm. He played the puck well. Everything a great goalie does."

His play allowed the Oilers to take the lead by way of a Colby Cave goal - a great individual effort that saw the recalled forward beat Marcus Petterssen wide then out-wait Matt Murray to tuck in his first of the season.

"You never know what's going to happen when you get into a game," Smith, sporting a November look with a mustache post-game, said.

"Tonight, they came at us hard. Put us back on our heels from the start but we stuck with it and found a way to get two big points."

The Penguins never wilted, forcing an action-packed North-South fourth period that was punctuated by Draisaitl's ninth-career extra session decider off the rush. 

Both sides had their chances and the outcome could have gone either way. The Dynamic Duo of McDavid and Draisaitl had a 2-on-0 opportunity that was followed by an open-net chance for Dumoulin, which was stopped by a sprawled out Darnell Nurse.

Video: Oilers vs Penguins Full OT

Nugent-Hopkins and Nurse then had a 2-on-1 of their own, which went back the other way with Blueger and Letang's odd-man attempt. The chaos was finally over after Draisaitl's charge.

Smith, energized by the anarchy, enjoyed every minute of it. 

"You didn't really have time to get your thoughts right before it was coming back the other end," said the netminder. "I don't think I've been a part of one that was that fast going back-and-forth."

Said Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett: "He stood tall in there. I know that he's played well in this building before. Everybody knew that Pittsburgh's getting healthy. Their lineup's back, they were going to be a tough test for us today and he was up to the challenge."

With the victory, the Oilers improved to 10-4-1 on the year, increasing their point-total to 21. And Smith's record turned to 5-3-1.

"He's got swagger, I'll say that," laughed Tippett, speaking of Smith. "I said in the overtime there: He had a hit, a pass and a few saves. That's like a Gordie Howe Hat Trick for a goalie."

As for Smith's performance and its effect in the Oilers Dressing Room, that was no joking matter.

"He's a leader," said Tippett.

"He stepped up. He's given us a presence in there that has helped us win games."

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