Riding the hot hand

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

He started the trip as little more than a tourist.

But by the time it was over, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers was the Oilers' primary puck stopper, backing the club to a pair of victories out east.

To avoid the risk of tampering with a winning streak, the rookie should get the start again tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I don't think anything has changed with my game," Drouin-Deslauriers said.

"My preparation has always been the same. We've worked on the same things on the ice with (goaltending coach) Pete (Peeters). I've got a chance to practise a lot, so my game-shape was good.

"But I think the major thing about those games is that the guys played really well in front of me."

Drouin-Deslauriers was able to transform mop-up duty in Pittsburgh into a start in New Jersey and another in New York at the tail end of the Oilers' recent seven-game road trip.

He was thrown over the boards to play the third period of a game seemingly out of reach, down 5-0 to the Penguins. Yet, Drouin-Deslauriers turned aside all 14 shots he faced in the frame as the Oilers nearly pulled off an improbable comeback, losing 5-4.

Two nights later Drouin-Deslauriers got the start against the New Jersey Devils, making 37 saves in a 2-1 win. The only downside of the experience was not getting a chance to play against Martin Brodeur who was out with an elbow injury.

"I would have liked to have played Marty," Drouin-Deslauriers said.

"Although I didn't really want to be a part of his (wins) record. But I hope the best for him and I hope he's going to break it."

The following night he drew in again and stopped 40 shots in regulation, another two in overtime and three in the shootout for the victory over the Rangers.

"It never muddies your goaltending situation when a guy comes in and plays that well," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "His numbers are exceptional. It's just a case of one thing - that we don't know whether it's sustainable."


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