NHL Buzz: Smith returns, will start for Oilers against Senators

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Edmonton Oilers

Mike Smith will make his first start of the season against the Ottawa Senators on Monday (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS, SNW, NHL.TV).

The goalie sustained an undisclosed injury during warmups prior to the season opener against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 13 and was placed on long-term injured reserve two days later.

“I’m honestly really excited about getting back in there and helping this team win,” Smith said. “… I feel great. To be honest, my injury, it was kind of a weird one where it only affected me in certain movements, so I was able to do a lot of things that I was able to do in the summer preparing for the season. It didn’t set me back too much.”

Mikko Koskinen will be the backup against the Senators.

“It’s big for us,” forward Leon Draisaitl said. “Obviously, [Smith is] going to help our defensemen big time, playing the puck, breaking the puck out. He’s so good at handling it. I think, both of those guys, (Smith and Koskinen), they just bring a lot of swagger and that urgency to win hockey games.”

Smith, who signed a one-year contract to remain with the Oilers on Oct. 10, was 19-12-6 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 39 games (37 starts) last season. — Callum Fraser

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