The puck stops here

Edmonton Oilers goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (right) makes a save on Phoenix Coyotes' Steve...

Edmonton Oilers goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (right) makes a save on Phoenix Coyotes' Steve Reinprecht during first period preseason NHL action at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers was supposed to get the start in Winnipeg, but got sick.

Instead, the Edmonton Oilers goaltender got to start his first exhibition game this season at home last night.

And he didn't disappoint.

Drouin-Deslauriers looked solid making 23 saves in a 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes last night at Rexall Place.

"He played great," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "The goaltending has been exceptional for the three games so far. It's muddled the goaltending situation from the third and fourth goaltender perspective."

BATTLING FOR MINOR LEAGUE POSITION

With Dwayne Roloson and Jussi Markkanen designated as the team's top two goaltenders heading into the season, Drouin-Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk are essentially battling for the top minor-league assignment.

Dubnyk pitched a shutout against the Coyotes in their first encounter in Winnipeg on Sunday.

"I felt very comfortable out there," Drouin-Deslauriers said. "I feel well recovered from what happened in Winnipeg. I drank a lot of water, had a good night's sleep and prepared for the game."

Drouin-Deslauriers was pencilled in as the starter for the Oilers' first pre-season game in Winnipeg but came down with the flu shortly after the team's arrival.

He lost six pounds in the process, but has since fully recovered.

"I had to drink a lot of water in order to rehydrate myself," he said. "But I gained all the weight back, so I feel good."

Drouin-Deslauriers was the Oilers second pick - 31st overall - in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Last year, the St-Jean-Richelieu, Que., native split the season between the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League and Greenville of the East Coast Hockey League.

This year the Oilers are looking to find a place where he can get more games to develop.

Last night he looked comfortable in front of the home crowd.

"It's always a big thing to play in Rexall Place," Drouin-Deslauriers said. "I was here last year during the playoffs and it was great. But I prepared well for the game tonight."

SEEING-EYE SHOT BEAT HIM

The only puck that beat Drouin-Deslauriers on the night was a seeing-eye shot from the point by Coyotes forward Josh Gratton. It was a shot he would have like to have back.

"I saw it maybe when it was five feet in front of me," he said. "The guy turned around quickly and fired at the end. Sure I would liked to have it back, but I recovered from the goal and just prepared myself for the next shot and I finished the game strong."

Not letting bad goals get to him is something Drouin-Deslauriers has been working on. The preparation appears to be paying off.

"He bounced right back," MacTavish said. "It was an unfortunate break on his part, but he bounced back very well and very strongly."

After frustrating seasons in the minors the last two years where he found it difficult to get a lot of work, Drouin-Deslauriers came into camp with a new attitude this year.

"I came with the objective to make the team," he said.

"I know it's going to be a tough challenge, but it's a good challenge for me."


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