SUN Hockey Pool

Dustin time!

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:03 PM ET

You can mourn the end of the Edmonton Oilers remarkable shootout streak this morning if you wish.

In an NHL record fourth straight shootout game, the Oilers failed to set an NHL record fourth straight shootout win.

But forget the minute of silence for the dearly departed shootout streak.

The Oilers still managed to put a point in the standings, their 14th of the last 20 points available.

And this morning, Edmonton fans should be taking a minute to celebrate that it was Dustin Penner who provided the point.

"He did everything tonight," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"It was his best game.

"He played exceptionally well.

"It was great to see."

That's right.@#$%^&* Penner, as he was becoming known in the first quarter of the season.

Pudge Penner became Bustin' Dustin last night, busting his not-quite-so-big butt.

In the last 10 games, if you'll take away that one incredibly empty effort against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins back at the beginning of the run, Penner has taken significant strides toward becoming a pro.

His five goals and four assists in that span are only part of it.

While some of those goals haven't been classics, like the one which bounced in off his face, the goal he scored last night was a big-time power-forward, goal-scorers goal.

Penner fought off three Stars and then picked the top glove-side corner.

He was involved. His feet were moving. He was battling. He was going to the tough areas and coming up with the puck. He was parking in Ryan Smyth's old place in front of the net.

He even received an ovation for a big hit on St. Albert native Stu Barnes.

He played just a huge hockey game.

If the great script-writer in the sky was dialed into this one, he would have had Penner score on his second-period breakaway for the winner.

The six-foot-four, 250-pound, 25-year-old from Winkler, Man., who scored 29 goals last year and won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks, was starting to look like he was over his Stanley Cup hangover.

And the player who was signed to a $21.25-million US five-year contract as a restricted free agent, suddenly looked like he wasn't carrying it all around in a wallet in his hockey pants.

Penner, who now has nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points, hasn't read many positive pieces in his time in town so far.

But he's not going to read much negative if he shows up and plays that kind of game on a consistent basis.

"Physically he had a couple real big hits," said MacTavish.

The Oilers coach said both Penner's head and his body are getting there.

"He's going through a transition of being a player not heavily counted upon and playing 11 or 12 minutes a game to a player who is being intensely counted upon and playing a lot more minutes."

Last night Penner was on the ice for 19:53. His six shots on goal were double anybody else on the team.

"It wasn't bad," offered Penner of his play when it was over. "Hopefully the learning curve will accelerated even more."

He said he should have won it.

"I could have had a couple more tonight.

"It shouldn't have come to the shootout. I should have scored on that breakaway."

While it's doubtful if MacTavish is going to change up the three names he writes on the shootout sheet every night because Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff all failed to score last night, Penner figured if he had scored on that breakaway, he might make a move to be on MacTavish's list should it go past the first three.

"I don't know where I am on the shootout list but if I'd have scored on the breakaway it might have moved me up to seventh or eighth," he laughed.


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