After coming up empty on their first two man-advantage opportunities of the night, the Oilers converted on their third as Alex Chiasson received a pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in his usual spot in front of the net, made a quick spin move and banked a low shot off the far post and in past Thatcher Demko for his fourth goal of the season. Tyson Barrie picked up his 15th assist with the secondary helper, tying him with the Tampa Bay Lightning's Victor Hedman for second in the NHL among blueliners.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Call it Jesse's Revenge. During Tuesday's game, Canucks forward Antoine Roussel dropped his glove and punched Jesse Puljujarvi in the face after a whistle, seemingly unwarranted, drawing blood on the young Oilers winger and ultimately resulting in a $5,000 fine from the NHL's Department of Player Safety. Forty-eight hours later, with Roussel in the penalty box for hooking, Puljujarvi powered home a rebound after a shot by Draisaitl to put the Oilers up 2-0 at 12:35 of the third period.
SAVE OF THE GAME
Despite the defeat, Demko had Leon Draisaitl's number on Thursday, stopping the reigning league MVP on multiple high-danger chances, none more impressive than a breakaway attempt midway through the second period. Draisaitl stole the puck in the neutral zone and burst in alone on Demko, but his backhand deke attempt destined for the five-hole was denied to keep the score 1-0 for Edmonton at the time.
At 8:58 of the third period and the Oilers leading 1-0, the Canucks had an opportunity to tie the game on the power play after Puljujarvi was called for tripping. However, Edmonton continued its impressive play on the penalty kill, vanquising their fourth disadvantage of the night and 14th in a row on the road, soon leading to a PP of their own and the insurance marker from Puljujarvi.
With 32 saves on 32 shots faced, Smith posted his second shutout of the season in just seven appearances and 41st of his career, improving his save percentage to .944 and goals-against average to 1.73. He becomes just the second goalie 38 years of age or older in NHL history to begin a season 6-0-0, joining Toronto Maple Leafs netminder George Hainsworth who started 8-0-0 in 1934-35.
According to Sportsnet Stats, the Oilers improved to 10-2-0 on the season when scoring the first goal of the game, while the Canucks are now 0-12-0 this season when allowing the game's opening tally.
The Oilers will head home from Vancouver tonight and begin preparations for a lengthy seven-game homestand that will see them play the Maple Leafs on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, followed by a single game against the Calgary Flames and three in a row against the Ottawa Senators.
"It was a lot of time off, longer than I wanted, but I'm happy to be back," said Ethan Bear, playing for the first time since Jan. 30 after dealing with a concussion. "I felt good tonight and the win was huge."
"I feel like we've done a lot of good things this year to put us in a good spot right now and I don't want that to slide away because of goaltending," Smith said of his perfect start. "It's a mission I'm on"
"Special teams was the difference in the game," Head Coach Dave Tippett said as the Oilers killed all four of their penalties and scored twice on the power play. "Our PK did an excellent job, doing whatever it took to keep it out of our net, and Smitty made some huge saves for us. Our PP got a couple of big goals, hard-scoring goals in front of the net, which was good to see."
"I love Jesse, he's always having fun," Tippett said of Puljujarvi, who has scored six times in the last 10 games. "When he scores, he looks like he's having so much fun. He's like a kid in a candy store out there. He's playing really well... He plays hard all the time. He's come in and he's really given us a boost. He's a top-six forward who can play in a lot of different situations, and I think there's still huge upside."