And then came Milan Lucic.
Calgary took a 4-0 lead midway through the third half when Lucic lunged at Smith while he pucked behind Edmonton’s net.
The collision was so bad that the NHL concussion meter forced Smith to leave the game. Smith was clearly angry about the decision, arguing fruitlessly with the referees to stay in the game. He finally got out, replaced by backup Mikko Koskinen.
Lucic was given a five-minute penalty for charging and one in-game misconduct – an automatic disqualification – for his part in the incident. But in the end after the fire 4-1 lost lane helping Edmonton make it 2-1 in the series, Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said he believes Lucic really put in the effort to cushion the ball.
“They called [it a penalty for] Charger, exactly? Can you imagine if Looch charged? “Sutter said.” What will happen there? I think he really tried to slow it down a bit. But that’s what it is, that’s the score [being 4-0] and who it was and that’s what they called. “
Smith also has to admit that he was confused about how to evaluate that play.
“I don’t think my head hit anything,” he said. “My helmet fell off, but I didn’t get hit in the head. I really don’t know what happened. I was playing a game and the next thing I knew, I was getting buried in the bottom board.”
Before that, the veteran keeper was finally on hand after a rough start in the Battle of Alberta. Smith was dropped from Game 1 after conceding three goals on nine shots in a 9-6 loss to the Oilers. He recovered well with 37 saves in a 5-3 Game 2 win, and he made 28 saves on Sunday before being disqualified.
Koskinen only scored in a 4:19 net – and did not face a single shot – before Smith returned to a standing ovation. He gave up a goal, to Oliver Kylingtonafter return but still pristine.
On any other night, Smith’s comings and goings could be enough for goalkeeping drama. Not so in the 3rd half. In the end, all four goalkeepers from both teams were on the field.
At the time of Smith’s departure, Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom was pulled back after conceding four goals – all in the second period – on 34 shots (0.882 save rate). Flame Backup Dan Vladar was in the grid for Tuesday.
It has been a difficult streak for Markstrom, who has conceded 11 goals in games 1 and 2 (0.838 SV%). Markstrom’s sensational regular season (0.922 SV%, 2.22 goals above average) helped him reach the final for the Vezina Trophy, and he featured in the early stages of Game 3, performing all 21 stops.
Even so, Edmonton opened the floodgates for just 52 seconds in the second phase. Zach Hyman was on the first board, and Evander Kane then scored a natural hat trick in just six minutes. Leon Draisaitl there were four spots in the night. Connor McDavid there are three.
Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft appeared to have delved into Sutter’s management of Markstrom after Game 3, pointing out that while Smith was limited by injuries during the regular season, Markstrom played hockey a lot.
“Mike Smith played just 28 games in the regular season and 10 in the knockouts,” Woodcroft said. “He’s 38 and in mid-season form. He hasn’t played 63 games [during] season and there is wear and tear that comes with that. “
Round 4 is Tuesday.