Wayne Simmonds expects to lose some teeth in the next few days. On Saturday, he suited up and ensured the Philadelphia Flyers wouldn't lose a game.
Wearing a guard to protect his sore mouth after taking a stick to the face two days earlier, Simmonds scored on a feed from Valtteri Filppula with 2:15 left to break a tie and send the Flyers to a 2-1 victory over the slumping Edmonton Oilers.
"I don't know how many people would want to go through that and then play a hockey game," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said.
Filppula skated into the slot and found Simmonds to his right, who one-timed a shot past Cam Talbot for his fourth game-winner of the season.
Simmonds also assisted on Claude Giroux's first period goal, and Brian Elliott made 23 saves as the Flyers won for the third time in four games.
It's been a rough week for Simmonds, who limped off the ice before the end of Tuesday night's game. He's been spending time at the dentist since getting hit in the mouth while sitting on the bench during a loss to Nashville on Thursday.
"I lost a couple pucks at my feet," Simmonds said of the mouth protection he wore. "But it's necessary right now. I can't be getting hit in the mouth again or the rest of my teeth are going to fall out."
Patrick Maroon scored in the second period and Talbot stopped 22 shots for the Oilers, who have dropped five of their first seven games.
Will Simmonds lose that many teeth when he visits the dentist again?
"They're there for now," he said. "We'll see how many die over the next couple of days."
It marked the first time Connor McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, faced Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick, the 2017 second overall pick.
But the matchup fizzled. Patrick's miscue led to Edmonton's goal, while McDavid was held without a goal for the sixth straight game.
"We're cleaning up the defensive part of our game, which is a start for us," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "But now we've got to get the offensive part going."
Oilers-Flyers has been an unusual inter-conference rivalry since McDavid broke his collarbone against the Flyers two seasons ago as a rookie. McDavid last season claimed Brandon Manning tripped him intentionally to cause the injury that sidelined him 37 games.
The bad feelings simmered and Manning and Maroon brawled last spring. Fans booed McDavid most times he touched the puck Saturday, but there were no fireworks with Manning as the defenceman was a healthy scratch despite participating in warmups. Hakstol decided to go with hot rookie Travis Sanheim instead.
With fourth-line centre Scott Laughton often draped over him, McDavid had a frustrating day. Last season's MVP left the bench briefly in the first period after taking a stick to the face, took a penalty in the second period and was kicked out of the face-off circle several times early as the Oilers got off to another poor start.
As Brad Malone served a high-sticking penalty, the Flyers went up 1-0 when Simmonds redirected a loose puck to Giroux, who scored his fifth goal at 3:36. It marked the fifth straight time Edmonton has surrendered the first goal before a game was nine minutes old.
Elliott was sharp for much of the second period as the Oilers controlled play and were more physical. Edmonton tied it when Maroon stole the puck from Patrick, wheeled in and beat Elliott from a sharp angle with 4:23 left in the period.
"Nolan tried to put the puck back to a soft area behind our net and it didn't work that way," Hakstol said.
It was the 14th goal in seven games for the Oilers, the NHL's second lowest-scoring team after Montreal.
"We have to get more than one to win," Oilers centre Ryan Strome said. "Can't rely on Talbot every game."