Oilers undecided on starting goalie for Game 2 of Qualifiers

 nhl.com  08/02/2020 01:27:24 

The Edmonton Oilers will consider goalies Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen to start Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, NBCSCH).

Smith started Game 1 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the hub city for the Western Conference, and allowed five goals on 23 shots in 26:32 in a 6-4 loss. He was pulled after Dominik Kubalik scored on the power play at 6:32 of the second period to give the Blackhawks a 5-2 lead.

Koskinen played 30:46 in relief, making 18 saves on 19 shots.

"We'll talk about where we are with our goaltenders, and I thought Mikko was fine in net," coach Dave Tippett said. "We have confidence in both our guys, we had long discussions about it. We think we'll use both in the [postseason]."

The two goalies shared the workload during the regular season before it was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Smith was 19-12-6 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 39 games (37 starts), and Koskinen was 18-13-3 with a 2.75 GAA and .917 save percentage in 38 games (34 starts).

Entering Saturday, Smith was 11-13-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .924 save percentage in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games (23 starts). He helped the Phoenix Coyotes to the Western Conference Final in 2012.

Koskinen has never started an NHL postseason game. He played the opening 29:58 of a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames in an exhibition game Tuesday, making the save on all 17 shots he faced.

Smith played the final 30:02 in the exhibition and made 19 saves on 20 shots.

"We started the season 5-0 (with) Smitty," Tippett said. "We thought we wanted to start the postseason the same way. We were very confident in Smitty. Other than the giveaway that went off his back, he was kind of left on his own out there."

Chicago's first goal, by Dylan Strome at 5:51 of the first period, came after Smith made a turnover trying to handle the puck outside his crease.

In the regular season, Smith started all three games against the Blackhawks, going 1-2-0 with a 3.56 GAA and .906 save percentage. He was 12-11-1 against Chicago with a 3.10 GAA, a .909 save percentage and three shutouts.

Koskinen shut out the Blackhawks on Nov. 1, 2018, his only start against them. He relieved Smith in a 4-3 loss at Chicago on March 5, making 10 saves without allowing a goal in 25:16.

Edmonton is the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference; Chicago is the No. 12 seed. The winner of the best-of-5 series advances to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Oilers committed 17 giveaways in Game 1, compared to eight by the Blackhawks, and their penalty kill, which was No. 2 in the NHL during the regular season at 84.4 percent, allowed three power-play goals on six opportunities.

Regardless of whether it's Smith or Koskinen starting Game 2, the Blackhawks said they will be ready.

"We know they have two good goalies, and they said from the beginning that both guys will probably play, so we've prepared for that," Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We'll see how it develops."

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