EDMONTON - Ryan Smyth was unable to get his power-play goal, but the Edmonton Oilers forward did get a memorable sendoff in the final game of his NHL career.
Smyth played a season-high 23:46 in a 5-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, bringing Edmonton's eighth consecutive non-playoff season to an end on a winning note.
First-year Oilers Roman Horak, Will Acton and Steve Pinizzotto combined for five points in the win. Jeff Petry, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored for the Oilers; forward Taylor Hall had three assists to finish the season with 80 points.
But the star of the night was Smyth, who wore the captain's "C" in his 1,270th and final regular-season game. He is retiring after spending 19 seasons in the NHL, 15 of them with the Oilers.
"I soaked every moment of it in," Smyth said. "It was an awesome experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of putting on this jersey, and any jersey in the NHL. To see the fan appreciation from the start to the end; they are the best fans in the world. I am thoroughly honored to stand up here and say I enjoyed every moment."
Smyth went into the game looking for a power-play goal to take sole possession of the franchise record; instead, he went into retirement sharing the mark of 126 with Glenn Anderson. Smyth didn't get the goal or even hit the score sheet, but it wasn't for lack of trying. He took seven shots, though he missed the target five times and had another one blocked.
The Oilers tried to set up Smyth during each of their five power plays. Smyth saw 7:10 of ice time while the Oilers were up a man; in one instance, they took their timeout during a double minor to Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler so Smyth could stay on the ice.
"I obviously wanted to get that goal," Smyth said. "It would have been a fitting night to do it. But I am still honored to share that record with Glenn Anderson, the guy who drove over me in his car."
When he was 11, Smyth served as a stick boy for Team Canada during a Canada Cup training camp in his hometown of Banff, Alberta. Anderson inadvertently backed over Smyth in the parking lot and had to drive him to the hospital.
Smyth received a standing ovation late in the game, bringing play to a brief halt, and received another one after the final horn as he skated around Rexall Place before standing by the glass with his family and waving.
The Canucks also came back to the ice after the game to congratulate Smyth.
"He's been a huge part of this franchise and we've played against him now for 14 years," Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said. "He always shows up, it doesn't matter what game it is, whether it's playoffs, preseason or regular season. He shows up and he's there and he's had a tremendous career. It was a nice finish for him here."
The Canucks had skated off the ice at the final horn, but returned to congratulate Smyth individually.
"It's terrific," Canucks coach John Tortorella said. "That's what you love about our athletes in our game, it's that mutual respect amongst one another after the game is over. Ryan Smyth deserves that and I thought our guys handled themselves very well."
Horak opened the scoring at 2:14 of the first period, seconds into his first shift. Horak was called up by the Oilers on Friday from their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City to fill out an injury-depleted roster.
The center jumped over the boards, went directly to the Canucks' net and deposited a centering pass from Acton past Markstrom.
Petry increased Edmonton's lead at 13:17, taking a pass in front from Nugent-Hopkins and lifting a shot over Markstrom.
Acton put the Oilers up 3-0 at 2:14 of the second period, beating Matthias to the front of the net and firing a shot through Markstrom's pads.
Matthias made up for losing his man in front when he scored at 5:25 by cutting to the net and finding a way to get the puck past the poke check of Scrivens. But Eberle restored the Oilers' three-goal lead at 16:06 with a power-play goal. With Smyth parked in front of the net, Eberle took a shot that bounced off Edler and into the net. Smyth came close to getting a stick on the shot.
"That was tough," Eberle said. "On the replay, we thought maybe he spun around and hit it. We were hoping that it was his. We were trying to do everything we could to get the puck to the net for him so he could tip it. We tried so hard.
"It was a special night to be a part of. Smytty is such a class act. He means so much to this city. The response the fans gave, it was unbelievable. It had to be tough for him to play through a game like this. It was distracting for me. I can't imagine how it was for him. But he went out with a bang."
At 1:35 of the third, Nugent-Hopkins put the Oilers up 5-1, getting to a rebound in front and muscling it past Markstrom.
Kassian scored with 10.9 seconds left for the Canucks, who close out their season at home against the Calgary Flames on Sunday.
Smyth finished his career having played 1,270 regular-season games, scoring 386 goals and 456 assists. He also played 93 Stanley Cup Playoff games, scoring 28 goals and adding 31 assists. Smyth helped the Oilers get to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes. They have not advanced to the postseason since then.
"It was a special night," Hall said. "To get a win and a nice win was great. Smytty wanted to go out on a win and a high note. That was his message before the game. We won it for him and it was good to see. It was a night I will never forget."