Saskatoon, SK – The Saskatoon Blades returned home on Tuesday night to wrap up a season series with the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. Edmonton, a team whom the Blades had already edged over the course of the season with three wins from three encounters also came into town riding a four game losing streak and had no intention of going quietly into the night.
Giving the Blades seven chances on the power play throughout the night, the chippy Oil Kings were a thorn in the side of the prolifically scoring Blades who reached the six-goal plateau for the 7th time this season while also taking 5 penalties of their own including a rare mouthguard violation. Fighting off a second period comeback, Saskatoon managed to take advantage of the reckless Oil Kings, going at 57% on the power play for the night.
An early power play opportunity gave the Blades a 1-0 lead at 13:34 of the first period. Playing catch along the blue-line, Dawson Davidson and Max Gerlach slowly forced the Oil King defenders to open up space in the zone allowing Gerlach to pass the puck off to Michael Farren down low along the left goal-post. Farren swirled with the puck from right to left and attempt to move the puck across the crease to the right wing. Instead, the puck riccocheted off an Edmonton defender and redirected into the back of the net for Farren’s 9th goal of the season.
With exactly five minutes left in the first period, the Blades added a second power play goal. Attempting to score on the same set-up-play that resulted in their first goal, Farren once again had his cross crease pass intercepted but this time it hit an Oil King defender and rebounded back to the front of the net. There, both Kirby Dach and Eric Florchuk took whacks at the loose puck with the latter getting it by the goaltender’s right pad for his 15th goal of the season. The Blades finished the first 20 leading 2-0 on the scoreboard and 13 to 4 in the shot-count.
The Blades started the second period right where they finished the first as Dawson Davidson scored his 10th goal of the season less than a minute into the period to make it 3-0 Saskatoon. Collecting the puck off a Dach face-off win, Davidson slipped his way out of potential pin against the right wing boards and carried the puck low before cutting in to score at point blank range.
Edmonton scored next, finding their way onto the scoreboard courtesy of a Blades turnover at 14:24, gifting them a fantastic opportunity in the slot which Kobe Mohr made sure not to waste. The Oil Kings then doubled their score at 13:01, this time on the power play with Nolan Maier half trapped under a pile of fallen Blades’ defenders. In a matter of minutes Saskatoon’s comfortable 3-0 lead had been chipped away to a dangerous 3-2 lead.
The Oil Kings weren’t done there either. Saskatoon allowed a third Edmonton goal at 10:47. Unable to clear the puck along the right-wing boards, the Blades turned the puck over to the Oil Kings’ blue-liners whose point blast was redirected into the back of the net just in front by Brett Kemp to tie the game 3-3.
Already with two tallies on the man advantage the Blades went back to work on the power play. Max Gerlach roofed a loose puck in tight to put the Blades back in front. The goal was Gerlach’s 28th of the season with Dawson Davidson and Kirby Dach picking up the helpers.
Josh Paterson made it 5-3 Blades with 2:16 left in the second period of play, assisted by the hard work of Chase Wouters who drove the puck down low before feeding Braylon Shmyr in front whose shot created the rebound allowing Paterson to trickle in his 29th goal of the season. Again, the Oil Kings answered back to make it 5-4 thanks to Connor McDonald’s 7th of the season.
Minutes later, Saskatoon was resented with a whole two minutes of 5 on 3 power play opportunity, the Blades scored their 4th power play goal of the game after waiting patiently to set up a play. Braylon Shmyr was the 6th Blade to get on the scoreboard with what ended up being the game winner. Shmyr’s 35th goal of the season also matches his career high for goals set last season.
The Oil Kings did add a late goal while attacking with 6 skaters, but the Blades managed to hang on and secure the two points improving to 32-31-2-1 on the season. Saskatoon now sits just 2 points behind the Prince Albert Raiders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Special teams were key for the Blades going 4/7 on the power play and only allowing 1 goal on 5 penalty kills. Nolan Maier made 26 saves to earn his 23rd win of the season.
The Blades continue their push for the playoffs on Friday night at home as they welcome the Calgary Hitmen. Then on Saturday the Brandon Wheat Kings visit SaskTel Centre for Don Cherry Night.