Casey DeSmith has goalie redemption arc in crucial 32-save performance against Oilers

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Lachlan Irvine
12 days ago
It appears the reports of Casey DeSmith’s metaphorical demise were greatly exaggerated.
Saturday night’s 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers wasn’t just a huge result for a Canucks team that’s struggled to put playoff teams away in recent weeks. It also all but cemented the Canucks’ place at the top of the Pacific Division; one point in their final two games will give them their first division title since the Northwest Division existed in 2013.
Even with Connor McDavid on the shelf, the Oilers were never going to be an easy out. Only three points separated the two teams from the top spot in the Pacific. Rick Tocchet needed a goalie he could trust to hold down the fort, and DeSmith more than answered that call.
The 32-year-old netminder has been under immense pressure to perform since Thatcher Demko’s injury pushed him into the starting role. And after some shakier performances, DeSmith seemed determined to flip that script, staying out for extra work with Canucks’ goalie coach Ian Clark throughout the week leading up to Saturday’s pivotal contest.
“We knew this was a four point swing towards that goal that we had,” DeSmith said. “That’s not the ultimate goal that we have for this season, but that’s definitely something that we’ve been working towards and something we take pride in.”
The Oilers were buzzing in the first period, including a 15-minute stretch during which Edmonton outshot Vancouver 11-3, but DeSmith turned aside all 20 shots he faced in the first 20 minutes. That was all the time his teammates needed to take charge, as Sam Lafferty caught Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner off his line and ripped the puck past his right shoulder with 15 seconds left in the opening frame.
Then Pius Suter put together a perfect deflection off a Tyler Myers shot, and DeSmith carried them the rest of the way with only one goal against on 33 Oilers shots.
“They came out hard, and they pushed in the beginning of the game,” DeSmith said of the Oilers’ efforts. “Then we found our legs, and I thought we were the better team for the second two periods, for sure.”
“You got some big goals from some guys who you might not expect, like huge goals from Laffs and Suts. And it’s just so nice to see those guys rewarded for all their hard work.”
“Really happy for Smitty, he played really well for us,” Rick Tocchet said about his goalie. “He came in there and gave us a great game.”
DeSmith, as well as Arturs Silovs, may not have been flawless across the last few weeks as the Canucks navigated the home stretch of the season without Thatcher Demko. But with Demko expected to return for the Canucks’ penultimate game of the regular season against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, DeSmith will be able to breathe easier knowing he kept the team in the exact same spot Demko left them.
Demko certainly showed his appreciation to DeSmith after the game, embracing his goalie battery mate with a big hug in the hallway outside the Canucks’ locker room.
If there were any doubts about DeSmith’s ability to win in a pinch, those might have disappeared after his work against the Oilers. It’s also entirely possible that he’s started his last game of the season (knock on wood). But should that call ring again from his coach in the playoffs, Casey DeSmith seems more than ready to accept the charges.

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