Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
The Day After 27.0: Stuart Skinner admits poor performance cost Oilers in 7-4 loss to Lightning
By Zach Laing2 months ago
Nobody wishes they could’ve played better Thursday night than Stuart Skinner.
On a night where the Oilers scored four, he let in five in the team’s 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning — the deciding factor between two duelling teams in which the winner added two to an empty net.
Don’t take my word for it, though.
“I think the guys played a heckuva game. Nobody in the room should be upset except for me, to be honest,” he said after the game. “I think that I ended up kinda losing us the game.
“That’s something I’ll take on, and I’ll be better for it. I think these guys in here should be real happy with how they played. They were fantastic.”
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
It’s not often you’ll hear that level of candidacy from any player, let alone a goaltender. The old saying goes, “There is no I in the team,” but the truth is sometimes an “I” can cost a team a W.
But for a goaltender in Skinner — who’s been miles better than worse as of late, especially in the Oilers’ recent eight-game win streak, seven of his — his game has been where it’s needed to be. Over that run alone, for example, Skinner saved 4.19 goals above expected, according to Evolving Hockey, and 5.24 goals saved above average, the 12th, and fourth best rates among any goalie over that stretch.
Even with that stretch of strong play, Skinner still knew he needed to take accountability for his own play.
“II think you need to take ownership when you need to. I know obviously as a goalie I have opportunities to help us win games, and sometimes I end up losing the game for the guys,” he said. “It’s one of those roles and I picked that role because I love it. I’m going to keep on loving that, and this is only going to make me better. It is what it is.
“To be honest, in the first two periods I thought I made some good saves, but obviously in the third period, you don’t want it to be like that. Same thing — I know I can make those saves, and I’ll do that next time. You learn from your mistakes, and move on.”
It was far from a perfect start for the Oilers, with Steven Stamkos opening the scoring just 1:07 into the game, adding to it with a weird Tyler Motte goal six minutes later. In fact, that entire first frame was all Tampa Bay.
And it shouldn’t be a surprise. They had just dropped a 4-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks days earlier, and the start to their season had been anything but ordinary. With Andrei Vasilevskiy on the shelf due to back surgery late in the offseason, the Lightning were forced to rely on Jonas Johannsson as a stopgap.
Still, Vasilevskiy hadn’t had an easy transition onto the ice this season. Before last night’s game, he had gone 4-4 with a .894 save percentage and hadn’t looked like he got into a real rhythm in the crease. Despite allowing three second-period markers — a shorthanded marker to Darnell Nurse, and power play goals to Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman, and another to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the third — the former Vezina winner looked all the part.
So much so that even with the Oilers peppering him with 54 shots by night’s end, he managed to stop 1.82 goals above expected. The Oilers’ inability to beat Vasilevskiy more than they did ended up costing them, while Skinner, on the other hand, allowed 2.61 below what was expected.
Despite the loss the Oilers have an opportunity to right the ship Saturday night, when the fledging Florida Panthers come to town — a team which, despite a solid record, fell to the Canucks last night. Much like the Lightning were last night, the Cats will arrive hungry.
Will the Oilers starve them once again?
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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