On Monday night, Mike Smith made his season debut for the Edmonton Oilers. In it, he stopped 27 shots and helped the Oilers knock off the Ottawa Senators 3-1. The very next night, Mikko Koskinen turned aside 40 shots as the Oilers completed a two-game sweep of the Senators by a score of 3-2.
Two veteran goalies making key saves at big times and giving their team a chance to win. That’s exactly what Head Coach Dave Tippett and GM Ken Holland envisioned when they re-signed Smith in early October to lock their 2019-20 goaltending tandem up for a second season.
Having both healthy and going is big for the team. Tippett believes it gives them the best chance to win on any given night.
“It’s a big factor,” Tippett said when asked about having both ends of the duo up and running. “That was when both of our guys were at their best last year. Getting Smitty back just allows them both to be fresh when they play. Koskinen came in last night and gave us a really strong game.”
Koskinen gave up six goals in his previous outing, a 6-4 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. It was a game in which Edmonton was arguably the better of the two teams, but couldn’t get a save when they needed it.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Koskinen was outstanding, and made some key saves late in the game to preserve the two points. That said, Tippett didn’t think his team played as badly as many made it seem.
“In watching the game, there was lots of talk about shots on goal but the actual chances for and against were not near as lopsided as what the shots were,” Tippett continued. “Ottawa threw a lot of pucks at the net. We weren’t quick enough to retrieve pucks and have more puck possession but that being said, Ottawa just dumped a lot of pucks at the net that wasn’t really scoring chances and the shot-totals went up accordingly. We needed saves at the right time. If we got a fresh guy going every night, hopefully, they can do that for us every night.”
Whoever gets the nod tonight in Montreal, the Oilers will hope they are fresh and ready to go. Judging by their first two games against the Canadiens this season, they’ll need a stellar performance from Koskinen or Smith.