Smith saves Oilers, survives 52-shot barrage


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Mike Smith frustrated Brandon Tanev and his teammates all afternoon. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

It's hard to imagine the Penguins could lose a game when they get 52 shots and a shorthanded goal from Brian Dumoulin.

Unless, of course, the only goal they get is a shorthanded one from Brian Dumoulin.

And so it was in what became a 2-1 overtime loss to the Oilers Saturday at PPG Paints Arena. When, for reasons that defy belief or explanation, Edmonton goalie Mike Smith was awarded only the No. 1 star in the game, rather than all three.

Or an entire constellation's worth, for that matter.

"Smith kind of stole one for them," Matt Murray said.

Yeah, the way Bonnie and Clyde kind of stole money from banks.

It's not just that Smith -- the same Mike Smith the Penguins skewered for six goals on 21 shots in a 9-1 victory at Calgary Oct, 25, 2018 -- made 51 saves, it's that roughly 48 of them came on quality scoring chances.

"He stood tall in there," Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said. "He had a lot of work. A lot more work than I'd like to see him get."

Smith's glove hand was particularly good. It looked like he could snag gnats in a wind tunnel, and make it appear effortless.

It seemed a bit peculiar, then, that the only goal Smith allowed snuck under his glove, and came off the stick of a guy who did not have a shorthanded goal in his previous 328 regular-season games. And who probably won't get another in his next 328.

But while the Penguins were killing a hooking minor assessed to John Marino at 12:22 of the third period, Dumoulin took a feed from Bryan Rust, who had carried the puck from his own end into the Edmonton zone, and snapped a shot at the net.

Smith had stopped all 46 pucks thrown his way to that point, but Dumoulin's sailed under his glove and tied the game, 1-1.

"That was an awesome play," Rust said. "We had the rush and he joined up and had a great shot."

Before the opening faceoff, the conventional wisdom held that there'd be lots of those, though not necessarily by Dumoulin.

But while the game had been touted as a showcase for elite offensive talents like Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Jake Guentzel and Leon Draisaitl, Draisaitl's goal on a sensational individual effort at 2:37 of overtime was the only point any of them managed.

McDavid was limited to three shots -- testimony in large part to the defensive work of Kris Letang -- while Crosby managed just two and Guentzel four.

Guentzel and Crosby are part of a power play that went 0-for-5. It generated a total of 11 shots and some quality opportunities against Edmonton, but those don't factor into the final score until they produce goals.

"We had a fair amount of grade-A chances," Mike Sullivan said. "We just couldn't finish."

Nothing new about that. The Penguins are 0-for-19 with the extra man in their past eight games.

"It's really frustrating," Justin Schultz said. "I think we're doing some good things. We're working hard at it. Working hard in practice and trying to do the right things. It's just that sometimes, it just doesn't go in for you."

One facet of the Penguins' game that has been consistently strong this season is their goaltending, and this game was no exception, as Murray turned aside 26 of 28 shots.

"Both goalies played really well," Crosby said.

Murray might have wanted another chance at denying the first Edmonton goal, as Colby Cave -- who was playing only because Riley Sheahan, the ex-Penguin who is Edmonton's fourth-line center, was injured in Columbus Thursday -- got around defenseman Marcus Pettersson on the right side and went hard to the net before sliding a shot past Murray.

There was, however, little Murray could have done to stop Draisaitl from ending the overtime at 2:37, as he carried the puck almost the length of the ice and fended off Alex Galchenyuk before flipping a shot past Murray for his league-best 26th point of the season.

"Draisaitl made a really good play," Murray said.

The Penguins made a number of those, too, but they didn't show up on the scoresheet.

Well, one guy did -- even if it was a guy no one expected to -- so the Penguins' afternoon wasn't a total loss.

"It was good to get the one point," Rust said. "And we had a lot of good things to build off of."

Including the knowledge that they won't see Smith again for more than a month. Except maybe in their nightmares.

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