– Who would have thought that Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers' first shootout in the NHL would take place on Broadway?
Not many, but the spotlight sure didn't seem to bother the kid.
The 24-year-old rookie made 40 saves through overtime and then stopped all 3 shots he faced in the breakaway round – which was capped by a dynamite glove save on Markus Naslund
– as the Edmonton Oilers
concluded their 7-game road trip with a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers
at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
"I've been in shootouts before, so I kind of knew what to expect," said the 6-foot-4 Deslauriers, who appeared in 57 games for AHL Springfield last season. "But those guys, they are so talented and so skilled. I tried to talk to myself and tried to be as calm as I could. It worked out."
Indeed it did, as Edmonton concluded its trip with a record of 4-3-0. The Oilers return home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs
on Thursday night. New York, which still sits atop the Atlantic Division at 11-5-2, will visit the New Jersey Devils
"We would have taken that going in," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish
said of completing the long journey above the .500 mark. " We 'll take it, given all the circumstances. I think when you play 12 of 15 on the road, we 'll take it. Now the challenge for us is going to be to continue to be real good at home."
Making his third NHL start and second in as many nights, Deslauriers once again gave Oilers brass something to think about in regards to the goalie rotation. With Dwayne Roloson
and Mathieu Garon
already in the mix, Deslauriers continues to make the case that he belongs with the big boys.
"There's much talk about it … that's for sure,"MacTavish said of his welcomed dilemma." Until it plays itself out, we're just going to continue to keep the 3 goalies around. But they've all, at times, played really well this year. It's just a case now of sustaining it."
The Oilers needed just 3:27 to get on the board, as Erik Cole
beat Lundqvist for his third goal of the season. As Cole drove to the net, Fernando Pisani
sent a puck from the left circle towards the goal that ended up going off Cole 's left skate and past Lundqvist to make it 1-0.
It was the lone goal of the first period as the Rangers were held to just 7 shots and failed to generate any quality chances.
Edmonton increased its lead to 2-0 at 3:30 of the second period on Kyle Brodziak
's third goal of the season. Just moments after a nice pad save by Deslauriers on Fredrik Sjostrom
, Brodziak beat Lundqvist from the point on a shot that No. 30 stops 9½ times out of 10.
"In lots of ways, I liked our game,"New York coach Tom Renney said." In others, I didn't. But I think there's enough good things to draw out of this one here that we can use in preparing for New Jersey. It's still about 60 minutes for us."
The Rangers cut the deficit in half when Paul Mara
solved Deslauriers at 8:13 of the second. After Ryan Callahan
carried the puck into the Oilers' zone, he fed a streaking Mara on the left wing, and the latter ripped a wrist shot from the edge of the circle past Deslauriers to make it 2-1. It was Mara 's first goal of the season.
"They're a very skilled team; very fast and a big team," Deslauriers said of the Rangers." I knew they were going to come hard."
Deslauriers preserved the one-goal lead late in the second period when he made a pad save on Nikolai Zherdev
's wrister from between the circles during a Rangers' power play. New York almost tied it moments later when Callahan's one-timer trickled behind Deslauriers and nearly over the goal line, but replays concluded that the Oilers' netminder grabbed it in the nick of time. Deslauriers stopped 19 of 20 shots in the middle period to keep Edmonton – which had just 5 shots on goal in the second – in front after 40 minutes.
"Just a workmanlike game," MacTavish said of his goalie's performance. "He's a big guy and he doesn't venture too far away from the net. He was in the right spots. They came at us really hard in the second period."
The second intermission didn't do anything to slow the Rangers down, though, as Chris Drury
tied the game just 46 seconds into the third period on a phenomenal play. After Deslauriers made an initial save on a shot from the right circle by Scott Gomez
, Drury managed to swat the rebound home with only 1 hand on his stick to make it 2-2. It was Drury's sixth goal of the season.
"We should take more positive things out of this than some of our wins this year, without a doubt," the Rangers' captain said.
Lundqvist helped push the game to overtime with a handful of saves late in regulation. The Rangers ran into a bit of trouble when Marc Staal
was whistled for hooking with 2:45 remaining, but Lundqvist made a sliding pad save on Shawn Horcoff
's chance from point-blank range and gobbled up Lubomir Visnovsky
's blast from just inside the blue line.
"We stayed with it … we knew they were going to come out hard in the third," Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray
said. " We 'll take the points for sure. It's been an up-and-down trip. As the season goes along, we're going to have more ups and downs."
The Blueshirts ran into more penalty trouble in overtime, as Paul Mara
went off for holding the stick just 14 seconds into the extra period. But other than a rocket from Souray that Lundqvist easily denied, the Oilers failed to generate anything that took the breath out of the Garden faithful.
Moments later, however, Andrew Cogliano
did. After gaining control of the puck at their own blue line, the Oilers stormed the Rangers' zone on a 2-on-1, and Pisani fed Cogliano for a one-timer that Lundqvist managed to get a shoulder on.
"I've been in shootouts before, so I kind of knew what to expect. But those guys, they are so talented and so skilled. I tried to talk to myself and tried to be as calm as I could. It worked out." -- Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers on his first shootout in the NHL
"We had a really strong comeback and a really strong third period," said Lundqvist, who finished with 29 saves." I think the guys played really well in the third and with a lot of energy. It is tough not to get two points, but we have to be satisfied with the way we came back."
had the lone goal in the shootout, which came in the second round. The highly-skilled forward cruised in and ripped a wrist shot that went off of Lundqvist's glove and into the net.
"It slid on the glove and I thought I had it," Lundqvist said. "I tried to locate the puck and I saw it went in behind me. It is a little frustrating to let that one in."
Deslauriers, meanwhile, was brilliant. The hulking netminder stopped Zherdev in Round 1 on a pad save, then poked away Sjostrom's chance before his highlight-reel stop on Naslund.
"He had a less-successful audition in preseason," MacTavish said. "I think he learned a little bit from that. You can't be over-aggressive with these shooters. You've got to be patient."
On Monday night, that patience was a virtue. Without question, the rookie's play made the long flight home to Edmonton much more enjoyable.
"He's playing well, and that's what you need," Souray said of Deslauriers. "He's making big saves and he 's playing with confidence. When you get that combination, you get results."
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.