SUN Hockey Pool

Rookie goalie buoyed by help up front in first NHL start

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

It was sink or swim when Craig MacTavish threw Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers into the deep end last night, where 20 Calgary Flames did everything they could to drag him under.

But anytime it seemed like he might be taking in a few gulps of water, the rest of the Oilers rushed to his aid like Pam Anderson and David Hasselhoff, giving him all the life support he needed with a wave of timely goals.

"It felt great, first start first win, you can't expect anything better," said Drouin-Deslauriers, who stopped 26 of 29 shots in a 4-3 victory. "The guys played unbelievable in front of me. I let in two tough goals, but they came back strong for me, and the power play was unbelievable."

Drouin-Deslauriers was good, not great, but his teammates were outstanding. The Oilers, who've looked better every game they've played this year, improved to 3-0.

"That's how we have to play if we want to win," said Robert Nilsson, who was all over the ice despite a bad foot. "Every time we had the lead last year we seemed to find a way to lose. This year we have a better team.

"This is exactly how we want to play. Every guy on the team did his job, and JD, first game and first win, we couldn't ask anything more from him."

It was a move that seemed a little odd, throwing a raw rookie into the first chapter of the Battle of Alberta on the road, but maybe it wasn't when you consider Drouin-Deslauriers stopped 43 out of 47 shots in his last pre-season game here.

So, out of the frying pan and into the Flames, he went.

"They showed ... appreciation to put me in a great rivalry, Edmonton and Calgary," said Drouin-Deslauriers. "It's always something special, your first NHL start. Pre-season is something, but the regular season is something very different."


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