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GAME PREVIEW: Game 23/56 Edmonton Oilers vs Toronto Maple Leafs

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Oilers host Toronto looking to gain ground on the division leaders

Edmonton Oilers v Calgary Flames
Jesse Puljujärvi scored his sixth goal of the season in Edmonton’s 3-0 win on Thursday
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers (14-8-0, 2nd in North) vs.

Toronto Maple Leafs (15-4-2, 1st in North)

27 February 2021

Rogers Place

5 PM MST

TV: CBC

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Pension Plan Puppets

ALLOWING ZERO

The Edmonton Oilers shut the door on the Vancouver Canucks by a 3-0 margin on Thursday night. Mike Smith turned aside 32 shots, Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist, while Alex Chiasson and Jesse Puljujärvi each had power play goals en route to the victory.

The Edmonton Oilers enter tonight’s game within four points of the division leading Toronto Maple Leafs; the two teams will face off three times over the next five days. Can the Oilers get off to a good series start with a win tonight?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

I just want to play well for this group,...I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things this year and we’re in a good spot right now, and I don’t want that to slide away because of goaltending.

Source

That’s Oilers goaltender Mike Smith after his club’s 3-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.

Mike Smith has exceeded expectations so far for this season. He’s got a scintillating .944 SV% in seven games, he’s got a 6-0-0 record and he’s seeing everything really well right now. I think one of the keys to the success of the Edmonton Oilers hockey club is to make sure both netminders are getting work and that one goaltender isn’t ridden too hard for too long. As long as Smith is kicking out the puck, he’s going to rightfully earn time in net.

THE LEAFS ARE SAYING

I just got some speed and got a nice pass from (Auston Matthews) and was able to take it to the net. It was nice to be able to score finally.

Source

That’s Willian Nylander after scoring both goals in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

Nylander has taken his lumps from some Toronto media types this year, which is silly considering the only players ahead of him on the club in scoring are dudes named John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. You’d think they’d learn by now.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • The absolute most satisfying video I’ve seen so far this year is of Jesse Puljujärvi scoring his sixth goal of the season while Antoine Roussel was in the penalty box. We are going to watch it again. You and me.
  • Ethan Bear was back in the lineup for the first game in nearly a month on Thursday in a game that Dave Tippett went with seven defencemen. Bear finished fifth out of seven defencemen in total ice time with 14:13 and he had just over a half minute of power play time. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Bear to rejoin Darnell Nurse on the top pair, and whether or not Tippett runs with seven defencemen over the next few games.
  • Alex Chiasson continued his point streak with a power play goal on Thursday. All of his seven points on the season (4-3-7) have been scored in the last eight games.
  • THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT: Both the Leafs and Oilers are scoring goals, it’s a fair bet that this trend continues into tonight’s game. Edmonton leads the league in goals per game averaging 3.59 a game, while the Leafs are close behind averaging 3.52 per game. A 6-5 game might be in the cards.
  • MISSING LEAFS: A significant portion of Toronto’s roster is questionable today. Auston Matthews, Jake Muzzin, Joe Thornton, Jake Muzzin, and goaltenders Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell are all day-to-day with various ailments.
  • NET GAINS: Mike Smith (6-0-0, .944 SV% / 1.73 GAA / 2 SO) stopped everything in his path on Thursday night, though Mikko Koskinen (7-8-0, .901 SV% / 3.26 GAA) will see action in this trip. Jack Campbell (2-0-0, .923 SV% / 2.00 GAA) could see action for the first time in a month if he’s good to go. Michael Hutchinson (2-1-0, .924 SV% / 2.36 GAA) could also see action.
  • THE BIG PICTURE: Edmonton is four points away from the Leafs. If they do the unthinkable and win three in a row, they’ll be atop the North Division. Let’s start with one win tonight.