3) Stuart Skinner
Some would argue Stuart Skinner had an easy day, with the way the team was playing in front of him. However, if anyone deserved a win like this, it was him.
Yes Skinner has had his struggles this season, but so has pretty much everyone on the team. However, his play of late has been — for the most part — better, ironically timed in with Jack Campbell being assigned to the AHL.
At the same time, the Edmonton native also needed a game like the one on Friday afternoon. In his previous start two days earlier in Carolina, he was removed after less than 15 minutes due to allowing four goals, although he was only at fault for the last one.
Regardless, Friday’s game was a welcome one for Skinner, as he stopped all 25 shot attempts he faced. As a result, he recorded his first shutout of the season and the third overall of his NHL career.
The 25-year-old admittedly didn’t have to do much in the opening period, as the Oilers outshot the hosts 21-6. However, he still made a key save early on when the score was 0-0, when a goal could have changed the whole trajectory of the game.
Skinner also made another important stop in the second period, when the Capitals still had a chance to come back against what’s been a horrendous defensive team this season. Overall, he played with the confidence and smartness which Oilers fans became so used to last season.
Postgame, Skinner was asked about his mental toughness to bounce back after being pulled early in his previous game. Speaking to the media, he said:
"“Sometimes it’s harder than maybe it looks, sometimes you know exactly how you’re going to show up the next day. For this one, it was just being able to rest and throw that one away. Just knowing who I am, knowing my game and sticking to it, and that was big for me. It’s nice after getting pulled in the first few minutes to get a shutout, it really feels good.”"
As we mentioned earlier, there were plenty of other contenders for our top three studs, including Kane, Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Regardless, it’s now a case of the Oilers carrying over the momentum into their next game, on Sunday night at home to the Anaheim Ducks.