Player Grades: Mike Smith slams the door shut, the Edmonton Oilers blank the Habs 3-0

Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers and Shea Weber #6 of the Montreal Canadiens chase the puck during the first period at the Bell Centre on February 11, 2021. Photo by Minas Panagiotakis /Getty Images

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The Edmonton Oilers played their most complete game of the season and received stellar goaltending from Mike Smith, en route to a big 3-0 win in Montreal.

The Montreal shot counter was trigger happy. The running count (38-31) didn’t reflect reality. But don’t let that take away from Smith’s performance, which was excellent. And the Oilers Power Play finally registered a goal against the Canadiens after going 0-10 in the first 2 match-ups versus Montreal.

Meanwhile, the Oilers played a solid game in front of Smith, too. A gritty performance by the 6D, yes, but also lots of back-pressure from forwards who made a concerted effort to back-check.

Here’s the tale of the tape.

Edmonton Oilers Game Grades

MIKE SMITH. 9. Opened the game with a terrific glove stuff on Nick Suzuki who had snuck behind Koekkoek and Bouchard for the break-away. And that seemed to set the tone for a rock-solid night where Smith made 38 saves and vacuumed up one possible rebound after another. Stopped Toffoli off the rush part way through the 1st. A tidy toe save off Tatar part-way through the 2nd. Preserved the 2-0 lead heading into the 2nd Intermission with a double-knock-out against Webber and Suzuki. Wrapped up a 1st Star performance with a block on a Brendan Gallagher deflection in front. Handled the puck like a pro. Man, Smith has been good in his 1st 2 games. The shutout is Smith’s 40th, only the 45th NHL goaltender to reach that mark.


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CONNOR McDAVID. 7. Connor was unlucky to only register a single point as his teammates couldn’t convert their opportunities from him. McDavid’s 1st Period end-to-end rush was a thing of beauty, but Connor couldn’t cash, either. Has an assist on the Nurse goal taken away. Drew an early 3rd Period Power Play. A brilliant individual effort turned Habs defenders inside out in the 3rd but again James Neal couldn’t find the back of the net. A secondary assist on the Barrie goal. 7 shots (!). Deserved a better stat line.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 5. Thought Nugent-Hopkins had earned an assist on the Nurse goal. Couldn’t finish on a Power Play opportunity in the 3rd off a feed from Draisaitl. 3 shots, 2 blocks. Played a responsible game but is not quite clicking with McDavid the way he can.

JAMES NEAL. 5. I’ll give James Neal credit for getting to the right places at the right times. But goal scorers must score. He was the net presence on the 1-0. But couldn’t drive home a set-up from McDavid in the 2nd. Next shift, same thing, as 97 sipped past Shea Webber and funneled the puck to Neal who shot it off a defender’s toe and wide.

DARNELL NURSE. 8. Darnell Nurse was flat-out excellent. Scored his 6th of the season on a fortunate bounce in front, but credit to him for getting the puck on the net. Nurse has now scored 6 in his first 16 games of the season. The last Oilers D to do that was Paul Coffey 35 years ago. But that was far from the best moment for Nurse, who patrolled the Oilers blueline with a purpose all evening. 3 hits and 2 blocks in a team leading 24:38 of TOI. Named the game’s 2nd Star.


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TYSON BARRIE. 7. Slapped home his 3rd of the season on the Power Play from the point, after a strong effort and sublime feed from Leon Draisaitl. Later, he activated from the point, took a sweet pass from Connor McDavid and slung a wrister that Jake Allen nabbed. 4 shots in almost 22 minutes of work. Tyson Barrie is looking more and more like the Free Agent the Oilers thought they were signing.

LEON DRAISAITL. 7. Leon Draisaitl’s elite passing skills were on display all evening. His best play of the game came on a 3rd Period Power Play where Leon had a dangerous attempt on a nice McDavid setup but then recovered the rebound and got it to Tyson Barrie on the point who drained the 3-0. Tremendous sequence. Fed Lagesson on a 2nd Period chance from the point. Did the same for Adam Larsson 2 shifts later. Stole the puck and fed it to Kahun but a dangerous shot attempt. Clean faceoff win on his own zone on a Montreal PP in the 3rd lead to a smart Adam Larsson clear.

DOMINIK KAHUN. 4. A sharp 1st period back-check. Drew a 2nd Period power play. Followed that with an effective neutral zone steal. Kahun whiffed on a 3rd period Power Play chance. Then had 2 ugly turnovers in his own zone late in the 3rd Period. Has shown flashes but not consistency.

KAILER YAMAMOTO. 5. Yamamoto and Draisaitl set up Kahun in a 2nd Period opportunity. A take-away next shift. A desperate dive at the blue-line cost the Habs the zone on a 3rd Period Power Play. 3 blocks. 0 shots.

SLATER KOEKKOEK. 6. Koekkoek and Evan Bouchard contributed more minutes than I expected and while they at time bent, they didn’t break. A solid 3rd Period clear. A block, a shot.


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EVAN BOUCHARD. 6. 18:39 of ice-time is the biggest on-ice role Evan Bouchard has played for the Oilers to date. Teamed up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a dangerous looking 1st Period rush. 2 shots, 2 hits. His cool head while sending up pretty outlet passes is veteran-like. His defending held up against a hard Montreal forecheck.

JUJHAR KHAIRA. 8. Jujhar Khaira has goals in back-to-back games, this one standing up as the eventual Game Winner. And it was a beauty, too, Kharia ripping a wrist shot short-side after Ennis had sifted a nice past Edmundson to a hard-charging Archibald who fed it to J.J. for the goal. His line was the team’s best in the 1st period. 6 hits, 60% on face-offs. A perfect 1:10 on the PK. Selected the game’s 3rd star, and well deserved it was.

JOSH ARCHIBALD. 7. The Khaira-Archibald-Ennis line started the 2nd Period with a tremendous shift along the wall, winning one battle after another. Archibald offered a sharp cross-zone pass to Khaira on the 1-0. He and Khaira double-teamed the Montreal attacker on a 3rd Period clear.

TYLER ENNIS. 7. A slick pass up the wall sprung Archibald and Khaira on the 1-0. 2nd Period shot block. Consecutive 3rd Period take-aways during a dogged shift by that line. Worked his ass off.

WILLIAM LAGGESON. 6. Dinged a post on a late 2nd Period point shot. Kept his cool in net-front tussle with Josh Anderson which resulted in successful 3rd Period Power Play. Playing a very solid, reliable brand of defence right now.


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ADAM LARSSON. 8. That looked like the 2017-18 edition of Adam Larsson. A hard-fought D-zone battle won on the Canadiens 3rd Period Power Play was just one example of his hard work. Larsson registered 2 shots, 3 hits and 2 blocks in 19:03 of work, including a rock solid 1:16 on the PK. His size handled the rugged Montreal fore-check extremely well.

KYLE TURRIS. 5. It was no world beater, but that was a much better effort from Kyle Turris. His 1st Period puck pursuit led to back-to-back chances by Chaisson and Shore. Another chance just a shift later. A block and was 75% in the face-off circle. Lets hope this is a step in the right direction.

ALEX CHIASSON. 5. Alex Chiasson was set up for a 1st period opportunity net-side by McDavid but couldn’t find twine. Happened again on a 2nd Period Power Play with the same result. A good stick interrupted a late 3rd Period rush. A late game zone clear. Solid, but has to find the net.

DEVIN SHORE. 4. Played physical, registering 4 hits. Partially at-fault on the Suzuki break-away. And his man also beat him to the net on a dangerous looking 2nd Period chance. A subtle but effective defensive play in the neutral zone negated a Canadiens rush. Won 6-8 faceoffs.

Stick tap to Dylan Wells, who served as an NHL back-up for the 1st time in his career, as Mikko Koskinen sat this one out, out of an abundance of caution after the Jesse Puljujarvi COVID test (J.P. tested negative later in the day, BTW).

The victory ups the Edmonton record to 9-and-7 and draws the Oilers even with the Canadiens at 18 points in the Canadian division (although the Habs have 2 games in hand).

Next up? 3 days rest, before Winnipeg Monday.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

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