Oilers send Smyth off with win over Canucks
Eliminated from the playoff race long ago, the Edmonton Oilers were happy to finish their season with a big win in Ryan Smyth’s final game.
Taylor Hall had three assists to hit 80 points on the season as the Oilers celebrated veteran forward Smyth’s finale with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
"It was a special night," Hall said. "To get a win and a nice win was great. Smitty wanted to go out on a win and a high note. That was his message before the game. We won it for him and it was good to see. It was a night I will never forget."
Roman Horak, Jeff Petry, Will Acton, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for the Oilers, who snapped a two-game losing skid.
Smyth concluded a career that saw him total 386 goals, 456 assists and 842 points in 1,270 games. He also finished in a tie with Glenn Anderson for the franchise record with 126 power-play goals.
Smyth was loudly cheered all night and Canucks players came back out on the ice to shake his hand after the final whistle, before the sobbing Alberta native said goodbye to his coaches and teammates.
"I soaked every moment of it in," Smyth said. "It was an awesome experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of putting on this jersey, and any jersey in the NHL. To see the fan appreciation from the start to the end, they are the best fans in the world. I am thoroughly honored to stand up here today and say I enjoyed every moment."
Shawn Matthias and Zack Kassian scored for Vancouver, which lost for the sixth time in seven games. The Canucks close the season Sunday at home against Calgary.
"We gave them too many primary scoring chances and a team like that they’re going to score," Kassian said. "We got a lot of shots, but we didn’t get a lot of scoring chances for us."
However, even the Vancouver players were mainly interested in talking about Smyth’s final night and how they were glad to be able to go up to him after the game and pay their respects.
"We talked about having to do something for him," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "He’s been such a big part of the Oilers, you talk about a lot of big names and he’s up there with the best. It was fun to be a part of it."
Edmonton started the scoring just 2:14 into the game as Steven Pinizzotto made a pass from behind the net to Horak in the slot and the recent AHL call-up scored his first of the year past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom. The assist was Pinizzotto’s first NHL point.
Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens withstood a barrage of early shots to keep Vancouver off the board and Edmonton made it 2-0 with 7 minutes left to play in the first. Nugent-Hopkins was able to get the puck to a pinching Petry in front and he beat Markstrom high to the glove side for this seventh of the season.
The Oilers made it 3-0 at 2:14 of the second period as Philip Larsen’s shot hit a stick in front, but the clearing attempt went directly to Acton, who zipped home his third of the season.
The Canucks got on the board 5 minutes into the second as Scrivens attempted a diving poke check on Matthias, but the momentum carried the puck into the net anyway to make it 3-1.
Edmonton scored again with 4 minutes left in the second as Eberle tried to hit Smyth in front for the record-setting power-play goal, but the puck caromed in off defender Alexander Edler instead.
"On the replay, we thought maybe he spun around and hit it," Eberle said of the hope that Smyth would be credited with the goal. "We were hoping that it was his. We were trying to do everything we could to get the puck to the net for him so he could tip it."
The Oilers took a four-goal lead 1 minutes into the third period after Martin Marincin’s shot created a scramble in front and Canucks defender Nicklas Jensen inadvertently chipped the puck in off the skate of Nugent-Hopkins.
The Canucks closed the scoring with a goal by Kassian with just 11 seconds left.
Vancouver finished with a 42-22 shooting edge.
NOTES: It was the fifth and final game of the season between the divisional rivals. The Canucks won the first three games by a combined score of 12-3 before Edmonton won the fourth matchup 4-2 on Jan. 27. … Smyth concluded his NHL career after spending 15 of his 20 seasons in the league for the Oilers, ranking second on the franchise’s all-time list with 971 games played. … College free agent F Michael Zalewski, who signed with Vancouver on March 14 after playing for RPI, made his NHL debut.