EDMONTON — Stuart Skinner has further cemented himself as the Edmonton Oilers’ playoff goalie.
Skinner made 43 saves to collect Edmonton’s first shutout of the season and Connor McDavid scored his 300th career goal as the Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 on Thursday.
“I felt pretty good,” Skinner said. “I think confidence grows as the team is doing such a good job in front of me. I think for a full 60 minutes that we just battled hard. Being able to get the two points is massive.
“We were so hungry to win every battle and I think that was very impressive to watch.”
The only other time Skinner recorded an NHL shutout was last season against San Jose, but he was sent down to the AHL the following day.
“We're not going to do the same thing we did last year,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “He's mature beyond his years. He came up with the big save at the right time.
"That team shoots from everywhere, they're volume shooters. But had some really good chances late in the third and Stuart was there."
Skinner started the season as the backup to Jack Campbell, who has struggled in the first of a five-year deal with the Oilers.
McDavid became the first player in NHL history to have five different 10-game point streaks in a single season, breaking Wayne Gretzky’s record of four in the 1986-87 season.
The Oilers captain also became the fifth player in league history to reach 300 goals and 500 assists before playing 600 career games. Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Peter Statsny and Bryan Trottier are the others.
Evander Kane scored the other goal for Edmonton (44-23-9), which has won three in a row and gone 12-2-1 in March.
“It is one thing to talk about it, it is another thing to go out there and do it,” McDavid said of his team clamping down defensively. “We talk about being defensive and playing hard and I felt you saw that tonight.
"I still felt we gave up a few chances but (Skinner) was there to bail us out. It was a really good building block.”
The Oilers also moved ahead of the Kings for second place in the Pacific Division by one point.
Joonas Korpisalo made 35 saves for Los Angeles (43-22-10), which has lost two in a row on the heels of a franchise-high 12-game points streak.
“I thought it was a hell of a game, both teams played really hard and it came down to a bounce or a break or two and they were able to score,” said Kings head coach Todd McLellan. “We had some real good looks and we ran into a hot goaltender and didn’t quite get it over the goal line, but I thought it was a heck of game.”
Kane opened the scoring with just 52 seconds left in the first period. Leon Draisaitl made a beautiful behind-the-back spin pass to Kane, who was able to send a one-timer past Korpisalo for his 15th of the season.
Draisaitl picked up his 70th assist and extended his point scoring streak to 11 games on the play.
Skinner was later able to keep the Kings off the board midway through the second period, making a big glove save on Adrian Kempe’s breakaway backhand shot.
Edmonton outshot Los Angeles 27-24 through 40 minutes after a scoreless second period.
McDavid made it 2-0 at the 3:53 mark into the third period when he picked off a pass and sped away on a short-handed breakaway to score his 61st goal of the season. It was also his fourth short-handed goal of the campaign.
Skinner made huge saves on Vladislav Gavrikov and Viktor Arvidsson in the dying minutes and collected his 10th win in the month of March to set a franchise record for wins in a single month.
The Kings entered the game with a 9-1-2 record in March and the league’s best point percentage for the month, while Edmonton was second. Edmonton leads the NHL with 4.71 goals per game in March, while the Kings are fourth at 4.00. A major difference is that the Kings also had the lowest goals against per game at 2.08 during that span … Edmonton had also scored four or more goals in 11 of its 14 games this month and its power play has operated at 42.3 per cent during their 7-0-1 run coming into the contest. … Edmonton became the first team to have two players record 70 assists in the same season since the 2008-2009 Pittsburgh Penguins and just the 21st team in NHL history to do so … The Kings were without Gabriel Vilardi (upper body), while the Oilers were missing Ryan Murray (back), and Ryan McLeod (upper body).
The Oilers play host to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
The Kings play the third game of a four-game road trip in Seattle against the Kraken on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press