After going down 3-0 late in the first period, the Oilers rallied and steadily climbed out of the hole to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3, earning their fourth victory in a row.
“That win right there carries some weight to it,” Smith said.
“We’ve scratched the surface now and now I think we’ve gained some confidence in how our team can play.”
The difference on Tuesday, he added, was how the Oilers withstood a late push from the hungry Canucks, protecting the one-goal lead after Tyler Ennis broke a 3-3 deadlock midway through the third period.
“We kind of hunkered down and made sure they were going to have to make a real good play to beat us in that game,” said Smith, who made 30 saves to collect his fifth win of the season.
“Being here for the last couple years, I’ve been in games where that one slides away from us and gets away. And I think tonight, that was a great confidence builder for all of us.”
It’s a result that could have some teachable moments going forward, said Edmonton coach Dave Tippett.
“If we get another game like this, then there’s a belief that we can do it again,” he said. “We came in here, we didn’t play as well as we liked the first period, we got better as the game went on. We knew we were playing a desperate team that’s trying to get back in the race.
“It’s a huge two points for us. Now we have to kind of park that game and get ready for the next one, because their desperation level goes up.”
Dominik Kahun sparked the comeback for Edmonton (13-8-0) Tuesday with goals late in the first and early in the third.
He hadn’t scored since Jan. 31 and admitted the drought was frustrating.
“I know what I can do and I know I can be a good player. So I just stick to that and try to play my game, be confident,” Kahun said. “And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s just how it is.”
Connor McDavid knotted the score with a power-play tally 4:23 into the third.
Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler had been sent to the box for tripping just nine seconds earlier. When Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko dove to make a stop, McDavid was quick to capitalize, popping a shot in over the sprawled-out netminder from the side of the net.
Leon Draisaitl registered an assist on the play, his third helper of the night.
McDavid and Draisaitl remain the NHL’s top two scorers with 38 (13 goals, 25 assists) and 33 (10 goals, 23 assists) points respectively.
“You give players like that time and space and the ability to take over a hockey game and they’re going to do it,” said Canucks captain Bo Horvat.
“Again, it’s just frustrating, but ? it just shows we have to mature as a group, learn from it and move on and do things better the next game. Obviously, this has happened a couple of times and we got to put our foot down right now and make it stop and finish it off.”
Vancouver (8-13-2) got goals from Horvat, Tyler Myers and Elias Pettersson in the first 15 minutes of the game.
Demko stopped 25-of-29 shots for Vancouver.
Blown leads have been an issue for the Canucks lately, and the team has now won just two of its past 12 outings.
Coach Travis Green said his group got what they deserved on Tuesday.
“I didn’t think we were as good tonight as we have been. Quite frankly, we had some individuals that didn’t play good enough tonight.”
The Oilers and Canucks will face each other again in Vancouver on Thursday.