Deslauriers backstops Oilers past Devils


Newark, N.J. - The tenderfoot stood in the Edmonton Oilers locker-room, deflecting questions about his game faster than he kicked away a shot from Dainus Zubrus.


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Newark, N.J. - The tenderfoot stood in the Edmonton Oilers locker-room, deflecting questions about his game faster than he kicked away a shot from Dainus Zubrus.

Again and again goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers talked about the defensive support he got in Sunday's 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

And how good it was to be part of another NHL game. And what an opportunity it was to play against the Devils. And how much help he got from his shot-blocking teammates. They blocked 11, as did the Devils at the other end.

"Look at him, he played with a lot of confidence," countered Oilers defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky. "He was the best player out there."

"He made some big saves at big times," said Sheldon Souray, another of the blue-liners. "That's all you can ask for."

Drouin-Deslauriers, on the heels of an impressive mop-up appearance against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, got the game against the Devils and wasted no time settling in.

He stopped Jay Pandolfo, John Oduya and Zach Parise in the early going at the Prudential Center, then went on to make 37 saves in his second NHL start for his second victory. He even picked up an assist on a second period power-play goal - which gives him one more point than Zack Stortini.

"I said at training camp I thought I was ready to make the jump. I feel I have my place here, I just have to prove myself every night . . But as I said, the guys played a huge part in the win tonight and I really appreciated that," the rookie said after the Oilers set themselves up for a more favourable finish to their seven-game road trip.

They are now 3-3 since leaving Edmonton, with one last stop tonight against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Drouin-Deslauriers will likely be back in net.

"He looked solid. There were lots of point shots, but he was in the right spot and didn't look at all nervous - and he made a couple of really big saves," head coach Craig MacTavish said.

"It's all about getting opportunity and taking advantage of it. We'd like to see somebody grab this and get on a roll and string a bunch of games together, but it's been hard to predict."

The Devils, who were without eight regulars, most notably goaltender Martin Brodeur, played one night earlier in Detroit and should have been easier pickings for the Oilers.

Instead, the patched-up Devils erased a 2-0 deficit and were pressing right up until the dying seconds.

"I think Jeff got a lot of confidence from that Pittsburgh game. He's making that first save, which is huge for us. It makes it much easier for the defencemen," said Tom Gilbert. "All his rebounds were going into the corner.

"Overall, we played a pretty good team game. We got the puck deep a lot, which was beneficial to us in the first two periods. We got everyone into the game and our legs going."

Souray got the game's first goal when he charged up ice on a rush with a feed from Ales Hemsky. He put a wrist shot past Scott Clemmensen at 7:19.

Hemsky, who was again masterful with the puck, then made it 2-0, just as David Clarkson was settling into the penalty box to serve a hooking penalty. His goal was reviewed because it went off his skate but stood in the end.

"Jeff played great for us. No rebounds - and that was a great help for the defence today," said Hemsky, who now has nine points in the last six games. "He looked pretty solid out there."

Drouin-Deslauriers' one blemish came about four minutes in when he slipped around the net and ended up turning the puck over, which in turned set in motion the deflection Parise would put under the crossbar.

"You know goalies - you don't say anything. You just let them be," said Souray. "It's not like a rookie defenceman, where you can say, 'Just make simple plays.' What do you say? 'Make simple saves . ?' "