Player grades: Mike Smith steals win for sleepy Edmonton Oilers over San Jose Sharks

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It’s not often a goalie makes the key defensive stops and most decisive offensive play in a game, but the Edmonton Oilers got that from Mike Smith in their 2-1 OT win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.

The Oilers came out sleepy and without star forward Leon Draisaitl, not a good combination. San Jose fell back into a passive-aggressive defensive posture that throttled the Oilers attack.

A power play goal in the first looked like all Sharks would need for the win.

But Smith kept coming up with saves, then came a brilliant individual push by Darnell Nurse on Ryan Nugent Hopkins’ tying goal in the third. then more brilliant work by Smith on key saves late in the third, not to mention his most excellent stretch pass on Connor McDavid’s OT winner.

In the end, the Grade A shots were 10 for Edmonton, 14 for San Jose, with six 5-alarmers for the Oilers and seven for the Sharks (running count).

Connor McDavid, 8. He made a great rush late in the first to set up Puljujarvi for a 5-alarmer. He made an even greater rush and deke to score the winning goal in OT. He led the team playing 23:01, and came up with the big goal, extending his point streak to 14 games.

Evander Kane, 5. Very quiet game, with as much bad as good.

Jesse Puljujarvi, 5. He also had as much bad as good. Had some good moments but also failed to make the most of his opportunities. He missed the net on an early slot shot, part of the early sloppiness of the Oilers, then failed to score on a great pass from McDavid. But a moment later he threw a hit and won a board battle, leading to a 5-alarm shot by Kane. A delicious slot pass went through his legs in the third. He half-fanned on a brilliant McD set up in the third, but then he’s Jesse, not Jari.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. He and Brassard allowed the pass and shot of a wide open Meier in the slot late in the second. But his great play on the short-handed goal made up for much. He did a fine job winning the puck at centre ice, then finishing off the scoring play.

Kailer Yamamoto, 6. Solid effort, but fairly quiet. He launched a slot one-timer off a diagonal low-high pass from Barrie in the second.

Zach Hyman, 7. Hustled hard once again. Beauty cross-ice dart to RNH on the first goal.

Ryan McLeod, 6. Was moving his feet. His hustle was also noticeable in a game without much. This line had several good shifts.

Derek Ryan, 6. Good work this game. He tipped an outside shot by Keith on net in the first. He got a second Grade A shot after Foegele’s wrap-around popped to him.

Warren Foegele, 6. Part of a go-go line. He picked off a pass, walked the Sharks d-man, blasted a puck on net, but failed to score. His line worked hard for a wrap-around chance in the second.

Derrick Brassard, 4. Quiet game on a line that got little done.

Zack Kassian, 3. He did not throw one hit. His aimless turnover in the second led to a dangerous slot blast from Hertl.

Devin Shore, 4. Failed to get much done.

Darnell Nurse, 5. Rough game, lots of iffy reads on defence, maybe because he was trying to force things. But it all paid off when he forced the Oil’s tying goal with two huge plays. Part of a group of Oilers who allowed a diagonal slot pass to Noah Gregor early in the second, leading to two Grade A shots in tight. Made a bad read and caused a dangerous 2-on-1 in the second, with Ceci to the rescue. He made a strong defensive stop on Brent Burns on San Jose’s late third period power play. A moment later came his vertical stretch to RNH, kicking off the Virtuous Cycle on Edmonton’s first goal, a play where Nurse smartly moved up to feed Hyman as well. That huge, clutch play bumped up his score three full grades. He lost a full mark, though, late in the third when his reckless turnover led to Meier getting a 5-alarm chance.

Cody Ceci, 6. He made a huge play with a stick block late in the second to thwart a 2-on-1. A moment later, after another iffy Nurse read, Ceci poked it off Timo Meier as he broke in. He and Barrie led the team with four blocked shots each.

Evan Bouchard, 4. He got beat down the wing on a Balcers break in early in the third, which Balcers put off the post. He then missed Keith’s pass around the boards — why weren’t his skates against the bumper? — allowing Nieto to set up Bonino for a 5-alarm shot. He made a key defensive stop later in the third, shooting the puck away as it was dribbling in.

Duncan Keith, 5. Skated well, had a solid game, but he was caught too high on Burns’ point shot late in the game with Couture almost scoring first on the tip, then the rebound.

Tyson Barrie, 7. He and Kulak were again Edmonton’s best pair. They both kept clean sheets, not one mistake on Grade A shots between them. Barrie set up Yamamoto’s one-timer in the second. He had the right idea, starting to fire quick pucks on net, hoping for a tip or rebound.

Brett Kulak, 7. He took a tough holding penalty in the third. Otherwise, skated and defended well.

Mike Smith, 9. He stole this win for his team. Smith made sharp saves on the first two Grade A shots early in the game, always a relief. But wasn’t quick enough on Hertl’s one-timer. Two more solid saves early in the second, then made a huge sprawling stop on Barbanov in the second. A moment after the Oil tied it in the third, he got some help from the post on a Bonino shot in the slot. Huge save on Meier with 90 seconds left in the third. With 30 seconds left he was solid on Logan Couture’s rebound shot. In OT, he made a fine save then moved the puck fast to McD for the breakaway. Great game and a bonus grade for setting up McD’s goal.

Source: EdmontonJournal

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