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Oilers snap slide by edging Isles 2-1

by Robin Brownlee /
EDMONTON, Alta. -- Two quick goals and one hot goaltender helped the Edmonton Oilers end a seven-game losing streak

The Oilers got early goals by Gilbert Brule and Dustin Penner, then held off the New York Islanders behind the goaltending of Devan Dubnyk for a 2-1 victory Thursday night.

The Oilers had been 0-5-2 since a 6-3 win against Columbus on Dec. 16, but Brule and Penner scored against Nathan Lawson in the first 5:17. Dubnyk did the rest, stopping 30 shots to stifle the suddenly surging Islanders. New York came to Rexall Place on a 7-1-1 run that included consecutive wins against Pittsburgh, Detroit and Calgary.

Dubnyk made the early goals stand up as the Oilers improved to 7-11-3 at home before hitting the road for five straight games.

"It's great," said Dubnyk, who got his third win in his 13th appearance of the season. "It was a long slide for us. It's exciting to have a game like that, kind of a hard-fought game that came right down to the wire. It certainly feels good. We needed it. We've got to get rolling now."

With Dwayne Roloson traded recently and Rick DiPietro sidelined with an adductor injury, the Islanders were reduced to dressing rookies Lawson and Kevin Poulin, who was recalled after DiPietro was hurt on Monday. Lawson, who was flawless in relief in the 5-2 win at Calgary three nights earlier, got off to a shaky start – and the Isles never recovered.

Brule opened the scoring at 3:22 when he took the rebound of Andrew Cogliano's shot off the end boards and snapped it past Lawson. Penner made it 2-0 just 1:55 later when he took a pass from Cogliano, cut in from the left wing around Milan Jurcina and lifted a backhander over Lawson for a shorthanded goal.

Coach Jack Capuano quickly lifted Lawson, giving the 20-year-old Poulin his first taste of NHL action, but the damage had been done.

Throughout the Oilers losing streak, coach Tom Renney has talked about his team's inclination to play on its heels instead of on its toes -- to back off and react instead of attacking and initiating. They did just that in the remainder of the opening period after taking the 2-0 lead, and it was more of the same in the second period.

Former Oiler first-round draft pick Rob Schremp got New York going in his first visit to Edmonton since the Islanders claimed him on waivers in September 2009, setting up Blake Comeau’s one-timer at the 13-minute mark of the second period to make it 2-1.

Dubnyk got the Oilers to the second intermission up by a goal, but it took 22 saves through 40 minutes to do it as the Islanders shrugged off their poor start and carried the play.

"We kind of backed off a bit," Cogliano said. "A lot of that has to do with penalties. Devan was great. Our PK was good tonight because of him."

Dubnyk wasn't done there. He refused to budge behind Edmonton's 30th-ranked penalty killing as the Oilers survived a two-man New York advantage for 1:38 in the final five minutes and finished 7-for-7 on the penalty kill against a team that had scored on its last four chances.

"The last four or five games, at least, we've been much better on our penalty kill," Renney said. "Tonight is sort of the capper, naturally. It won us the hockey game.

"Beyond that, I'm not sure we were anywhere near what we needed to be to beat this team."

Renney said his goaltender made the difference.

"He was great. He was excellent," Renney said. "A big man. He was in front of every shot. They certainly attempted to put lots of shots on goal and take the battle to the blue paint. He really stood tall for us."

Capuano said the Isles' power play was the culprit in the loss.

"Our power play has had some trouble all year, too," Capuano said. "Give them credit.

"They got in blocking lanes. They did a lot of good things. We have four or five pretty good guys out there who are moving the puck around, so I give them all the credit in the world. They deserved to win the game."
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