The Day After 65.0: Stuart Skinner shuts the door in Edmonton Oilers 3-2 win over Buffalo Sabres
Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing8 months ago
The difference between Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell is night and day.
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If you watched the Oilers’ 7-5 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in which Campbell started on Saturday, you’d see a goaltender who just doesn’t have his game. Last night, however, you watch Skinner man the crease and see the complete opposite. He was a huge reason why the Oilers beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2.
He had another shining performance saving 37 of the 39 shots that he faced with his .949 save percentage helping carry the Edmonton Oilers. His play in the second period was key for the Oilers. While they opened up the game with Edmonton outshooting Buffalo 20-15 after Connor McDavid opened the scoring, then Jeff Skinner responded. Come the second, however, and the Oilers forgot they were playing a hockey game as they got outshot 13-6 — the problem being the Oilers had just two shots through the first 13 minutes of that period.
In net, Skinner stood tall making a number of big saves to keep Edmonton into it. According to Natural Stat Trick, Skinner stopped 1.68 goals above expected and simply put, he was the reason the Oilers were able to stick around in the game. It allowed the Oilers a chance to catch their breath, and late in the second it was the Oilers’ fourth line who put in some work.
They hemmed the Sabres into their zone for over a minute before Derek Ryan found the back of the net. While Dylan Cozens would score for the Sabres just 41 second into the third, another goal from the magical McDavid 3:23 into the period gave the Oilers enough of a cushion to win the game. They tightened things up defensively, and with Skinner in net, the Oilers didn’t have much to worry about.
It wasn’t particularly the prettiest game by the Oilers. At 5×5 they controlled only 53.14 percent of the shot attempts, 51.72 percent of the shot attempts, and 54.62 percent of the expected goal share, while outscoring Buffalo 3-1. As of late those share numbers have been much stronger in the Oilers favour, but even still, that’s about all you can ask for on a night like that.
For the Oilers, they have a tough few games this week. They visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday night before heading to Toronto on Saturday to take on the Maple Leafs. Edmonton will be getting a bit boon to their lineup in one of those games as Evander Kane will likely draw back into the lineup for one of those games.
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Mar 6, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his second goal of the game during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
- With two goals last night, Connor McDavid has officially set a new career high in points with 124. He previously had a career-high of 123 set last year, and it appears he is going to annihilate that number this season. When he gets his 129th point on the season, he will officially have the highest-scoring season in the salary cap era.
- Nick Bjugstad went 10-0 in the faceoff circle for the Oilers last night. With him on the ice at 5×5, the team controlled 63.16 percent of the shot attempts, 52.10 percent of the expected goal share and 50 percent of the scoring chances. His big body and defensive prowess was on display breaking up the cycle multiple times. He changes the look of the Oilers’ bottom-six.
- File this under statistics I was shocked to see: with Devin Shore on the ice at 5×5 this year the Oilers are outscoring their opponents 11-5. He ranks at, or near the bottom in key underlying numbers, however, but the goal results are very real. A weird one.
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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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