After surrendering three goals in the first period, the Edmonton Oilers benched All-Star goaltender Stuart Skinner in favor of Jack Campbell to start the second period in Game 4 against the Los Angeles Kings.
Skinner, a 24-year-old rookie who started the first three games, was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots with the Kings taking a 3-0 lead going into the second.
Skinner’s first postseason has led to mixed results.
He made 31 saves in the Oilers’ 4-3 overtime loss to open the series before making 22 saves in a 4-2 win in Game 2. Skinner and the Oilers once again went to overtime only to fall in the extra frame in a 3-2 loss in Game 3 that saw the Kings take a 2-1 series lead entering Sunday.
Edmonton came into the 2022-23 season with lofty expectations. The Oilers reached the Western Conference finals last year when they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
In the offseason, the Oilers signed Campbell to a five-year contract worth $5 million annually with the belief that he could be a crucial piece in their bid to win the Stanley Cup. Signing Campbell and pairing him with Skinner, whose rise to prominence began in the Oilers’ farm system, gave the Oilers a tandem that blended a proven starter with one the more promising prospects in the organization.
Scoring goals was hardly the issue for a team that finished the regular season leading the NHL with 3.96 goals per game. Giving up goals, however, was an issue. Campbell struggled to start the season with a 3.85 goals-against average through the first three months of the season. At the same time, Skinner was gradually building the sort of continuity that allowed the Oilers to climb the standings.
What Skinner achieved also led to him overtaking Campbell as the team’s No. 1 goaltender, which was further reinforced when he was named to the NHL All-Star team. Skinner finished the year 29-14-5 with a 2.75 GAA and a .914 save percentage for the Oilers, who finished second in the Pacific Division and was a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the divisional crown.
Turning to Campbell, who went 21-9-4 with a 3.41 GAA and a .888 save percentage, became a bit of a turning point for the Oilers. Campbell’s entrance was soon followed by a pair of goals from Oilers defensemen Evan Bouchard and star forward Leon Draisaitl that trimmed the lead to 3-2 with around 11 minutes left in the second. Then, Draisaitl scored his second goal with 10.5 seconds left in the period to tie the game at 3-3.
Campbell, who was previously with the Toronto Maple Leafs, is 6-8 with a 2.45 GAA and a .915 save percentage in 14 career postseason appearances. He made eight saves in the second period.
Oilers bench goalie Stuart Skinner in favor of Jack Campbell vs. Kings