Oilers won’t reveal starting goalie for Game 4 of Western 2nd Round

Skinner displayed an ability to bounce back after a subpar performance in the first round of the playoffs. After allowing five shots on 26 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2, he made 27 saves in a 6-1 win in Game 3, then shut them out 1-0 in Game 4 with a 33 -save performance.

Skinner made 16 saves in a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 2 at Vancouver on Friday after allowing five goals on 24 shots in Game 1, a 5-4 loss.

“We have all the faith in the world in Stu,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “Stu has always bounced back well, our group has always bounced back well and that’s something that we do well, and I expect Stu and our group to respond.”

This is not the first time Skinner has faced adversity this season; he went 2-5-1 with a 3.53 GAA and .861 save percentage in nine games (eight starts) under coach Jay Woodcroft. Edmonton got off to a 2-9-1 start this season, falling to the bottom of the NHL standings, which led to a coaching change.

After Knoblauch took over Nov. 12, Skinner went on to post a 34-11-4 record with a 2.46 GAA and .912 save percentage in 50 games (49 starts). He was made the undisputed No. 1 goalie after Jack Campbell was assigned to Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Nov. 7.

“To be honest, it feels the same way, I think going through that adversity helped me, especially being in the situation I am now,” Skinner said. “This is a position that I’ve been in before and I’m grateful for those experiences, so I’m not an absolute mess right now.”

Knoblauch acknowledged Skinner has bounced back well this season, but the Oilers cannot afford another subpar performance and be put on the brink of elimination in Game 5, which is at Vancouver on Thursday.

“Throughout the season, there [have] been games where he hasn’t played well and he’s responded and he’s done well,” Knoblauch said. “Playoffs…last night was a game that we know he can play better than that and we’ve got two great goalies. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been very happy with our goalies and the level of play they’ve given us, I’ve been very fortunate to have.

“We have a decision to make, who is going to be that next guy to go in?” If it’s Stu, I have confidence he will bounce back; if it’s ‘Picks,’ I know he can play and give us a solid performance when he hasn’t played for long stretches of time. He’s shown it in the regular season. We have a big decision to make, but I think either guy that we choose can get the job done.”

 
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