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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes Stars @ Oilers: Mike Smith Looks to Match Career High

The Edmonton Oilers have never had three consecutive shutouts. They’ve had back-to-back shutouts six times, including their previous two games when they blanked Nashville and Vegas by identical 4-0 scores.

Expecting a third consecutive shutout tonight seems unlikely, although the New York Rangers posted their third in a row last night, but the Oilers will look to continue their solid defensive play and defeat the Dallas Stars for the first time this season.

— While the Oilers have never had three consecutive shutouts, Mike Smith did in 2012 with the Arizona Coyotes. On March 29th he stopped 38 shots to defeat San Jose, then stopped all 44 shots v. Anaheim on March 31st, before stopping 54 shots v. Columbus. The crazy thing is that isn’t even the Coyotes’ franchise record as Brian Boucher had five consecutive shutouts (modern day NHL record) from December 31st, 2003 to January 9th, 2004.

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— Smith’s current shutout streak of 133 minutes is 13th longest in Oilers franchise history and he should move up a few spots tonight.

If he doesn’t allow a goal in the first 1:38 tonight he’ll move into the top-10. If the Stars don’t score in the first period Smith will be in the top five.

— Smith joined a small group of Oilers goalies who have posted consecutive shutouts.

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Curtis Joseph was the first when he blanked St.Louis (November 20th, 1997) and Ottawa (Nov, 22nd).
Joseph did it again later that season when he shut out Tampa Bay (March 11th, 1998) and Florida (March 13th).
Tommy Salo on March 7th (Toronto) and Buffalo (March 9th) in 2001.
Dwayne Roloson on December 4th (Vancouver) and the 8th (Dallas) in 2006.
And Cam Talbot on March 18th (Vancouver) and the 20th (Los Angeles) in 2017.

— The Oilers also had back-to-back shutouts on December 7th and 8th, 2002. Jussi Markannen blanked Florida on the 7th and then Salo shut out the Atlanta Thrashers the next night.

— As we wrap up the final 10 days of the regular season here is a look at head-to-head matchups of the teams in the playoff race in the West.

Teams CGY EDM LA VGK VAN COL STL MIN DAL NSH TOTAL
CGY NA 2-2 2-0-1 1-2 2-1 1-2 1-2 2-0 1-0-1 0-0-2 12-9-4
EDM 2-2 NA 3-1 3-1 3-0 0-0-2 2-1 0-3 0-2 3-0 16-10-2
LA 1-2 1-2-1 NA 2-2 1-1 0-3 1-2 1-2 1-1-1 1-2 9-17-2
VGK 2-1 1-3 2-1-1 NA 2-1-1 1-2 0-2 2-1 2-0 2-1 14-12-2
VAN 1-1-1 0-1-2 1-0-1 2-1-1 NA 1-2 0-3 0-1-1 3-0 1-2 9-11-6
COL 2-0-1 2-0 3-0 2-1 2-1 NA 1-1 2-0-1 1-2 1-1-1 16-6-3
STL 2-1 1-1-1 2-0-1 3-0 3-0 1-1 NA 2-0 3-1 3-0-1 20-4-3
MIN 0-2 3-0 2-1 1-2 2-0 1-1-1 0-1-2 NA 2-2 0-3 11-12-3
DAL 1-1 2-0 2-1 0-1-1 0-3 2-1 1-3 2-1-1 NA 1-2-1 11-13-3
NSH 2-0 0-2-1 2-1 1-2 2-1 2-1 1-3 3-0 3-1 NA 16-11-1

The Blues have the best record thus far, followed by Colorado and Edmonton, while the Kings have the worst. The Oilers face Dallas tonight and Colorado on Friday and will be looking for their first victory of the season over each club.

— I begrudgingly included Vegas and Vancouver, but they are both clinging to the edge of the playoff cliff holding on by their fingertips. The Canucks lost in a shootout to Ottawa last night and are now tied with Vegas.

The race for third in the Pacific looks like this: LA has 92 pts with four games remaining (GR) VAN and VGK have 87 pts with five GR.

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The Wildcard race is as follows: Nashville has 93 points with five GR. Dallas has 91 pts with six GR while VAN and VGK 87 pts with five GR.

LA has the easiest schedule and I believe they will make it. I think the Predators are also in. The Canucks and Golden Knights will be rooting hard for the Oilers tonight to win in regulation, but even if Dallas loses they are still four points up with five games remaining. Vancouver plays Minnesota, Calgary, Edmonton, LA and Seattle. It is hard seeing them winning four games. Vegas plays Washington, San Jose, Dallas, Chicago and St. Louis. Winning four will be difficult for them as well. It is plausible for VAN and VGK to win four, but unlikely. Even if they do win four then Dallas has to go 2-4 for either team to get in.

— Since the trade deadline when Dallas acquired goalie Scott Wedgewood he’s had better numbers than starter Jake Oettinger. Oettinger is 6-4 with a .897Sv% and 2.85 GAA, while Wedgwood is 3-0-2 with a .916Sv% and 2.69 GAA. Oettinger started a crucial game in Vancouver on Monday and allowed four goals on 19 shots and was pulled after 30 minutes. Wedgewood came in and allowed one goal on 11 shots (.909Sv%). Tonight is a huge test.

— Dallas hasn’t played a regular season game in Edmonton since November 16th, 2019, when they won 5-4 in overtime. Last month the Oilers led 3-2 late in the third period, but allowed Dallas to score two goals in 24 seconds with five minutes remaining and eventually lost 5-3. The Oilers are 9-2-1 since that game and have outscored teams 46-30. And 14 of those goals against came in two losses (9-5 to Calgary and 5-1 to Minnesota). The Oilers’ defensive structure has been excellent since Woodcroft took over as they sit sixth in GA/game at 2.75. They are also sixth in goals/game at 3.75 and are one of only five teams averaging one goal/game more than they are allowing. Florida, St.Louis, Calgary and Colorado are the others.

— Suddenly Connor McDavid is not leading the NHL scoring race. Jonathan Huberdeau is one point ahead. They each have six games remaining. I believe McDavid, to a point, when he says the personal trophies don’t matter anymore, but he’s also highly competitive and I could see him using this as motivation. He won’t suddenly cheat defensively to score points, but I expect him to be flying tonight. The Oilers have had four nights in a row where they could be in bed early and get lots of rest. That rarely happens during the season, so when I look at the equation of rest combined with the scoring race, I see it equaling a dominant performance from McDavid.

— McDavid has a chance to pass Jaromir Jagr on this list of most multiple-point games before the age of 26:

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Wayne Gretzky:     409
Mario Lemieux:     255
Dale Hawerchuk:   243
Steve Yzerman:     219
Bryan Trottier:       216
Denis Savard:        214
Jaromir Jagr:       210
McDavid:             210
Bobby Orr:            205
Sidney Crosby:      202
Pierre Turgeon:     201

It is very realistic that before January 13th, 2023 McDavid will be fourth on the list surpassing Jagr, Savard, Trottier and Yzerman. Very impressive.

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