Koskinen in goal for Oilers in Game 2 of Qualifiers against Blackhawks


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

It will be the first NHL postseason start for Koskinen, who played 30:46 in relief in the Oilers’ 6-4 loss in Game 2 on Saturday, making 18 saves on 19 shots.

Mike 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. He was pulled after Dominik Kubalik scored a power-play goal at 6:32 of the second period to give the Blackhawks a 5-2 lead.

“I thought both of them were fine yesterday,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said Sunday. “Smith’s turnover was one he would probably like to have back, but he made two point-blank saves before that when we turned over the puck right in front of him. That wasn’t a goaltender problem yesterday, that was a players-in-front-of-him problem. I’ll talk about our goaltenders later tonight.”

Smith is 11-13-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .934 save percentage in 25 NHL postseason games (23 starts). He helped the Phoenix Coyotes reach the Western Conference Final in 2012.

The 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).

“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 and was 1-2-0 with a 3.56 GAA and .906 save percentage.

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.

The Oilers committed 17 giveaways in Game 1, compared to eight by the Blackhawks, and Edmonton’s 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.

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.

There hasn’t been a best-of-5 series in the NHL since 1986. The League used them for the preliminary round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 1980-86, and the team that won Game 1 went on to win the series 87.5 percent of the time (49 of 56).

“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.”

NHL.com independent correspondent Derek Van Diest contributed to this report

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