Normally when you hear the name Smith in an Oiler summary, you think of Ryan Smyth, parked in front of a net picking off passes or deflecting shots. But on Friday night, in an amazing display of offensive power, it was Jason Smith who was the hero. The Oilers captain best known for his steady stay at home defensive skills, made a highlight reel goal and picked up two assists in what has got to be a career night, all on the way to the Oilers 6-3 crushing of the San Jose Sharks.
The Oil who gave up the first goal of the game and looked to be in a bit of trouble in the first period, turned things around in decisive fashion. Edmonton brought their playoff series to a two all tie with the win, scoring five unanswered goals to put the punctuation mark on a night of huge hits, amazing speed and spectacular play.
The usually rock solid Vesa Toskala was chased from the game by the midway point of the third period. Evgeni Nabokov was handed the task of stemming the Oiler gusher and he succeeded to a degree, but also was victimized by the relentless Oiler attack.
The Oilers, who have been improving steadily in each game, put it all together from the second period on, seizing the momentum and winning every battle that presented itself at the Rexall Place. On the boards, on the lines and deep in the Shark end of the rink, Edmonton was at their bashing, crashing best. They won the draws, took the play to the Sharks and set them back on their fins by the end of the third period.
The turning point of Friday’s game was a San Jose Power play that threw everything but a goal at Oiler goaltender Dwayne Roloson, he was simply overpowering in the Oiler net, redirecting shots, making key saves and frustrating the Sharks as they worked the power play. The crushing finale to a terrific penalty kill was a redirected shot off Roloson blocker, it traveled down the ice into the San Jose end of the rink, Toskala came out to handle the puck and inadvertently bounced it off of Sergei Samsanov who took the puck down the ice and deposited it in the empty San Jose net. That tied the game at 3-3 and with that momentum the Oilers never looked back. They poured on the offence and left the Sharks reeling.
Both teams now head for San Jose and game five at the Shark Tank. Edmonton leaves feeling like their game is only going to get better and better, the Sharks head home wondering what the heck has hit them and how the wheels fell off what seemed like another game they had under control.
Now that the Oilers have gotten a taste of success against Toskala, the remaining three games should be barn burners. It’s anybody’s series and if momentum has anything to do with things anybody is dressed in Oiler blue tonight!