EDMONTON - When the Edmonton Oilers traded for Ben Scrivens on Jan. 16 they did so in hopes the Spruce Grove, Alta., native would solve their inconsistent goaltending problems.
The 27-year-old showed on Wednesday he may just be the solution. Scrivens stopped all 59 shots he faced to backstop the Oilers to a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. The win matched Edmonton's season-high three-game winning streak.
"Hats off to the goaltender, he was tremendous," said San Jose coach Todd McLellan. "Probably first, second and third star. If he wasn't he deserved it. Heck of a performance. In all my years in the league I don't think I've seen that. We attempted 100 shots on goal, that doesn't happen very often."
The 59-save shutout is an NHL record. The 59 shots tied the mark for the most ever given up by Edmonton and Scrivens' 59 saves were a team record. Previously Edmonton gave up 59 shots to the New York Rangers in 1993, winning that game 4-3.
The Oilers were outshot 20-7, 22-9 and 17-11 by periods as the Sharks, 7-3-0 in their previous 10 games, dominated play, territorially and by shots. But they couldn't beat Scrivens, who made his fourth start for the Oilers and won his second game. He went into the game with an 8-7-4 record, a 2.03 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
He improved all three of those marks Wednesday.
"I was seeing the puck well," he said afterwards. "We got extremely lucky with a couple of posts in the second.
"I had an awful, awful warm-up, it was an inauspicious start to it," he added. "It's one of those things where you try not to look at the forest while you're in the trees. You try to focus on the process and give yourself a chance to make that save and when the puck drops again, you try to focus on the next one and don't try to get too far ahead of yourself."
Other than Scrivens the team effort was spotty at best.
"That's how I thought our skaters were playing the game; they were watching Ben play," said Oilers coach Dallas Eakins who wasn't particularly happy despite the win. "It was an incredible thing to watch, I've never seen that before. I'm so happy for Ben and proud of him and then you're mad at the same time."
The Oilers capitalized on San Jose mistakes to get the win they didn't really deserve.
Defenceman Justin Schultz in the first period and Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle in the third scored the Edmonton goals. Schultz scored on a shot from the blue line that defected off a San Jose player in front of goaltender Antti Niemi. Hall buried a shot just under the crossbar to finish off a two-on-one break with Eberle six minutes into the third and he assisted on Eberle's goal in the final two minutes.
The story was all Scrivens, who got a well-deserved standing ovation late in the second period and several more in the third. While the Sharks rattled two shots off the goalpost in the second period, Scrivens had them shaking their heads with some of his spectacular saves.
Among his best were point-blank stops off Patrick Marleau, Jason Demers twice, Bracken Kearns, Brent Burns and Tommy Wingels.
"Usually when you put 20 shots on goal in the first period you get one goal," said Wingels. "So at that point we knew we would have to keep going. We were saying get 20 more shots, get 20 more shots and you think that's a recipe for success. Unfortunately tonight it wasn't."
Hall said the Oilers skaters could sense towards the end of the first period that they were watching something special.
"Obviously you don't want to give up 59 shots, but sometimes a goalie has to stand on his head and that has to be one of the best performances by a goalie, I have ever seen."
The loss was San Jose's first to Edmonton this year after winning 3-1 and 5-1 in their previous two games.