Smith stops all 39 shots he faces as Oilers shut out Golden Knights 4-0

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EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have created a little breathing room in their playoff pursuit.

Mike Smith made 39 saves for his second consecutive shutout as the Oilers earned a 4-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.

The Oilers are now six points up on Los Angeles for second place in the Pacific Division and seven points clear of Vegas.

“At this time of the season, you want to be on the top of your game and be a big reason why you’re headed to the playoffs and in the playoffs and playing your best games to give the team the best chance to win,” said Smith, who has won his last six starts and became the seventh goalie over 40 to record back-to-back shutouts in NHL history. “That’s all I’ve been focused on. I’m not dwelling on what’s happened before or in the past. That’s out of my control now, so I’ve been focused on my next game and really been working hard to get it back on the rails and feel like my last month or so I’ve been really playing some solid hockey.”

Kris Russell, Cody Ceci, Warren Foegele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored for the Oilers (44-26-6) who are 14-3-2 in their last 19 games.

“We got contributions from up and down the lineup,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “Different people are finding ways to contribute, and that’s what good teams have — a lot of contributing and productive players. The way we’re asking our players to play is not an easy style. But our players are putting the work in and it’s fun to see them execute.”

Logan Thompson made 32 saves for the Golden Knights (41-29-5), who have lost three of their last five.

“We have to regroup,” said Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer. “We’ve talked about this, we knew we weren’t going to run the table and we talked about two weeks ago, we were going to drop some points along the way, but we’re still right in the thick of things. We have to have a short memory and get ready for the next one.”

Russell finally broke the scoreless deadlock for Edmonton with 3:24 remaining in the first period. The veteran defenceman snuck in from the point and blasted a shot past Thompson for his first goal in 126 games.

It remained a one-goal game through 40 minutes, with Edmonton outshooting Vegas 26-25.

The Oilers made it 2-0 just 35 seconds into the third period as Ceci used a Jesse Puljujarvi screen to send a point shot past Thompson for his fifth of the season.

Edmonton extended its lead five minutes into the third as Foegele stole a puck from Alec Martinez at the Oilers blue line and took it all the way to the Vegas net to score his 12th of the campaign.

The Oilers kept on coming with a short-handed goal with 4:27 left in the third as Nugent-Hopkins battled hard to nudge the puck under the Vegas netminder for his 11th.

The Golden Knights return to the ice on Monday when they host the New Jersey Devils. The Oilers are off until Wednesday, when they start a two-game trip in Dallas against the Stars.

NOTES: Edmonton and Vegas both came into the game having scored 10 short-handed goals this season … Knights goalie Robin Lehner returned to Las Vegas on Friday due to a family health issue, with Jiri Patera coming in from Henderson of the AHL to back up Thompson for the game … Vegas was missing Laurent Brossoit (undisclosed), Nolan Patrick (undisclosed), Nicolas Hague (lower body), Reilly Smith (lower body), Brett Howden (upper body) and William Carrier (upper body) … Edmonton had its full regular lineup available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2022.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press

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