Garon has been 'a rock'

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- Without him, the season would have spiralled down the drain a while ago.

So Oilers goaltender Mathieu Garon can be excused for not having his cape on straight in a 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

However, the team will need him to return to superhero form tonight when they square off against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I don't think the other night is an indication of what he's done for us this season," said forward Marty Reasoner. "He had some bad breaks and some bad bounces that he definitely couldn't control.

"For us, pretty much the last year, but particularly in the last month, he's just been a rock.

"He's been our backbone and he's given us a chance to win every single night. He's keeping us in games that maybe we shouldn't be in."

The win against the Detroit Red Wings two weeks ago comes to mind.

Garon turned aside 40 shots in that particular contest, then stopped all three players he faced in a shootout. Then there was the victory over the Blue Jackets last week where he turned aside 36 shots before again slamming the door in the shootout.

Or how about the 38-save performance against the Minnesota Wild last month, allowing the Oilers to win a game they had no business winning?

"I tell him pretty much every day that if he makes 40 saves, then we have a 75% chance of winning," smiled Reasoner.

Garon has faced over 35 shots in nine games this season.He's out-dueled both Roberto Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff in wins over the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames. He was the Oilers Molson Cup winner for the month of February.

"He's been unbelievable all season for us," said rookie forward Sam Gagner. "He makes the big saves when you need them and that makes you pretty confident.

"When we're playing loose we're able to create chances, knowing if teams come back the other way we're going to be able to get a big save out of him. It really helps our confidence as a team and when you have a goalie like that it definitely helps you and it's amazing the amount of saves he's been able to make in regulation play and the shootout."

Garon is the reason the Oilers set a new shootout standard this season with 14 wins.

The native of Chandler, Que., is a perfect 10-0 in the tie-breaker, stoning 30 of 32 shooters. He heads into tonight's game with an overall record of 23-17-1.

Signed by the Oilers as a free agent last summer, Garon, 30, was expected to caddy for Dwayne Roloson this season. But it became increasingly difficult to keep him out of the crease as his performances became more and more impressive.

After being handed the reins, he made 13 consecutive starts, winning eight of them.

He's expected to get the nod again tonight, despite giving up three goals on 12 shots Tuesday and getting the hook after the first period.

"He's won a lot of games for us, and I think it's about time we put one together for him," Gagner said. "Going down the stretch run, you always need good goaltending and we're confident that Matty can keep it going for us.

"He's been great and hopefully we can get a few wins for coming down the stretch here."


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