EDMONTON, AB -
Fans in attendance for the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks game on Wednesday night witnessed National Hockey League history as goaltender Ben Scrivens broke the record for the most saves in a regular season shutout in league history.
Chants of ‘Scri-vens, Scri-vens’ roared through the Rexall Place crowd along with multiple standing ovations as the Oilers goaltender electrified, stopping 59 shots in a 3-0 shutout win over the Sharks.
“He was on obviously,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “I’ve seen that kid stop a lot of pucks, I’ve watched him develop from being in the East Coast League and up and down with our team with the (Toronto) Marlies and him turning into a NHL goalie. I’ve got a history with him and I’m very, very proud of his development and where he is today. But we were overwhelmed in the game. I thought San Jose was firing on all cylinders. Right from our backend to our forwards, we just couldn’t shake it. We were firmly standing around watching and we were playing a very cautious, cautious game which, you can’t do in this league. You can’t do it.”
Scrivens’ performance left his teammates in awe.
“I don’t think I’ve even seen anything like that on TV,” Oilers winger Taylor Hall said. “That was amazing. It’s not like they were 59 shots from the wall, it was ‘grade A’ chances. They were chances that we don’t want to give up at all but he was making saves and it was fun to watch.”
Despite being outshot 14-3 halfway through the first period, the Oilers were the first to get on the board with their fourth shot of the night. Justin Schultz scored his second goal in three games when he lined up and fired a perfect shot from the point past Antti Niemi to give Edmonton the 1-0 lead. Hall and Nick Schultz earned the assists on the goal at 10:51 of the opening frame.
With under a minute to go in the first period, Oilers newcomer Matt Hendricks and former Oiler Mike Brown dropped the gloves and squared off in the home team’s defensive zone.
That tilt would close out an opening 20 minutes in which the Oilers were outshot by their opponent 20-7, but maintained a 1-0 lead courtesy of goaltender Ben Scrivens.
“Probably at the end of the first period was when you got a sense that he was really feeling it and he could do something special,” Hall said. “Obviously, we don’t want to give up 59 shots anytime but sometimes a goalie has got to stand on his head and that’s got to be one of the best performances by a goalie I have ever seen.”
“He was standing in there tall and we could feel it on the bench that he was going tonight,” Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “We wanted to play as well as possible for him and when it comes down to it, he played outstanding.”
Scrivens continued his stellar play in the second period when he had a string of spectacular saves just over halfway through the frame. He earned a standing ovation after his 33rd save of the night, with about 11 minutes on the clock.
“Hats off to the goaltender,” said San Jose Head Coach Todd McLellan. “He was tremendous. He was probably first, second and third star. If he wasn’t, he deserved it. That was a heck of a performance. In all my years in the league, I don’t know if I’ve seen that. Give him credit where credit is due.”
The Oilers goalie, acquired from Los Angeles in a trade on January 15, had a previous career high in saves of 40, set on March 26, 2013. Scrivens had 42 after 40 minutes of play.
“Actually, I had an awful, awful warmup,” Scrivens said. “It was an inauspicious start to it. It’s one of those things where you try not to look through the forest when you’re in the trees. You just try to focus on the process and give yourself a chance to make that save and as soon as the puck drops again, you don’t try to get too far ahead of yourself.”
At 6:10 of the third period the Oilers helped out Scrivens with some goal support. Jordan Eberle set up Hall backdoor on a 2-on-1 rush and he scored his 19th of the season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins earned the secondary assist and Eberle’s helper was his 200th career NHL point.
Eberle sealed the deal for the Oilers as he pounced on a loose puck in the crease and put it home at 18:40 of the third, on the power play. Nugent-Hopkins and Hall had the assists.
Scrivens also set an Oilers franchise record with his performance. The previous best for most saves in a game by an Oilers goalie was 56, set on March 17, 1993 by Bill Ranford.
“They begin to think the goaltender’s invincible and he was,” McLellan said. “He was Superman tonight. He had the uniform on and anything that we shot at him, he stopped. As the night went on, they blocked more shots, they felt they were closer to the victory every time the minutes ticked off and you have to give them credit for sticking with their plan as well.”
Scrivens was humble in his post-game interview session.
“I thought a lot of their shots were from the outside,” the goalie said. “That probably helped their shot total. They did get some good chances, they got some good looks. Aside from the second period, I thought we had a pretty decent first period and I thought the third period was pretty solid too. To say we got bombarded the whole night is maybe a bit misleading. I think you don’t score three goals on a good team like that without doing some stuff right.”
He continued, “Every shutout you get is a team effort and I know people roll their eyes at that, especially when the shots were a bit lopsided tonight. Nick Schultz blocks a shot with I think like five or six minutes left and as a goalie you know, that shot’s going in. I could tell that puck was going in. That’s a huge block and like I said, you don’t get a shutout without a lot of help from the guys in front.”