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Mike Smith returns to Edmonton due to injury setback

The Oilers will be rolling with Mikko Koskinen and Stuart Skinner for the rest of their road trip.

Dave Tippett said on Thursday that Mike Smith suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury and has been sent back to Edmonton for further evaluation.

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“He had a setback in practice, so he’s gone back to get some further evaluation in Edmonton,” Tippett said. “It’ll be (Mikko) Koskinen and (Stuart) Skinner for the time being.

“It’s a concern [that he’s been out this long] for sure because he looks like he takes some steps ahead, then goes out, works a little bit and has taken another step back. It’s certainly a concern. He went through the last couple days and near the end of practice, kind of tweaked something. So he decided he wanted to go back. I think they’re going to do some more imaging of it today, and we’ll get a better read on it at home.”

Smith started the first three games of Edmonton’s season. He stopped 81 of 85 shots in back-to-back wins over the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames and then allowed four goals on 15 shots in Anaheim against the Ducks. Smith left that game in the second period after Devin Shore collided with him.

Edmonton’s goaltending hasn’t been a major problem in Smith’s absence.

Through eight appearances, seven being starts and one coming in relief in the Anaheim game, Mikko Koskinen has a .920 save percentage. Stuart Skinner posted a .946 save percentage in his first two games with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL and stopped 35 of 38 shots in his 2021-22 NHL season debut against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.

The question is how long a Koskinen and Skinner tandem will hold up. Koskinen notoriously struggles when taking on a larger workload and Skinner only has two games of NHL experience. If Smith winds up being out for the long-term, we could see the Oilers look into the goaltender trade market, as they did in the off-season when they reportedly tried to acquire Darcy Kuemper.

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