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Oilers say goodbye to Smyth in meeting with Canucks
(SportsNetwork.com) - While the Edmonton Oilers' game on Saturday versus the Vancouver Canucks won't have an impact on the standings, it will have plenty of meaning for the organization and fans in attendance at Rexall Place.
The Oilers will bid farewell to forward Ryan Smyth in his final NHL contest after announcing his retirement on Friday.
One of the most popular players in Oilers history, Smyth spent a total of 15 seasons in Edmonton and ranks second on the franchise's all-time list with 970 games played. The Alberta native enters Saturday's matchup tied with Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson for the club career mark with 126 power-play goals.
The 38-year-old ranks fifth in franchise history with 296 goals, coming in behind a number of legendary players like Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Anderson and Mark Messier, and Smyth is sixth in team annals with 631 points.
"I have been truly blessed to play this game for as long as I have and will cherish the memories forever," Smyth said on Friday. "After some difficult discussions over the past week, I felt it was best to make this decision and move on with life after hockey and enjoy every minute I have with my family."
Edmonton made Smyth the sixth overall pick of the 1994 draft and he stayed with the club before a memorable trade to the New York Islanders in February of 2007 after the club was unable to come to terms with the forward on a contract extension. The unpopular move was highlighted by Smyth's tearful goodbye while thanking the fans and organization.
Smyth finished up that season with the Islanders and then spent his next four seasons split with the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings before returning the Oilers by way of trade in June of 2011.
In 1,269 career games, the veteran has totaled 386 goals, 456 assists and 842 points. He has 10 goals and 13 assists in 71 games this season.
Smyth's farewell should give some added energy to tonight's regular-season finale for the Oilers, who are last in the Western Conference with 65 points and just 15-22-3 at home on the season.
Edmonton began a season-closing four-game homestand with a win over Anaheim, but has followed with setbacks to Colorado and Los Angeles. The Oilers were blanked 3-0 by the Kings on Thursday.
Viktor Fasth stopped 45 shots for the Oilers, including 23 in the third period. However, he was beaten for a goal just 23 seconds into the game and the Oilers were down 2-0 by the end of the first period.
"You can't give a Stanley Cup contender the lead that early," said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. "Our top line, our best line is on the ice and a real easy assignment and it's in our net. It can't happen."
Edmonton has lost five of its last seven games and saw forward Sam Gagner exit in the second period with an ankle injury.
It has also been a disappointing campaign for the Canucks, who were knocked out of playoff contention on Tuesday and lost for the fifth time in six games with Thursday's 4-2 setback to the Avalanche.
David Booth and Henrik Sedin scored for the Canucks, while defenseman Dan Hamhuis had two assists.
Jacob Markstrom gave up three goals on 27 shots, making his first start since being acquired from Florida as part of the Roberto Luongo trade on March 4.
"We played well. We played hard. I thought Markstrom looked really good," Vancouver head coach John Tortorella said.
Thursday's game came one day after former captain Trevor Linden was named the president of hockey operations. President and general manager Mike Gillis was fired on Tuesday.
The Canucks went 1-4-0 on a five-game homestand and end the regular season at home versus Calgary on Sunday.
The Canucks won their first three meetings with this season with the Oilers by a 12-3 margin, but lost the most recent encounter 4-2 in Vancouver on Jan. 27.
Vancouver has still won nine of the previous 13 matchups overall.
04/12 10:02:16 ET