SUN Hockey Pool

Long wait for first star

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

He'd been sitting on the bench so long, the splinters probably had to be removed from his butt before going out there last night.

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers had not started a game for the Edmonton Oilers since Nov. 30, but was solid in a 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

The Oilers goalie turned aside 31 shots in the first-star performance.

"I felt pretty good out there," said Drouin-Deslauriers. "It's good to get the win, but we play them again (tonight) and we know they're probably going to come out pretty hard. I'm going to enjoy the win for now and refocus for the game (tonight)."

Limited to a couple of relief appearances and a stint in the minors since his last start, Drouin-Deslauriers spent the last few months caddying for Dwayne Roloson.

With the Oilers mathematically eliminated from playoff contention prior to last night's contest, the rookie got the call. He'll get the start again as the season comes to an end for the Oilers in Calgary.

"I think the first five minutes of the first period had been the toughest for me," Drouin-Deslauriers said.

"It had been a while and even though I'd been practicing a lot, a game situation is very different. The guys played very well in front of me, they took the rebounds away and let me see the puck.

"When the guys play that way in front of me, it makes my job a lot easier."

Drouin-Deslauriers turned away all 23 shots he faced through the first two periods before eventually conceding a goal in the third. His best save came in the second as he was able to get a glove on a shot from Olli Jokinen headed towards the top corner.

Later in the frame he kicked out a pad to keep a David Moss effort from finding the far post.

In the third, with the Oilers up 3-0, Mike Cammalleri converted a pass from Jokinen in front. It ruined his shutout bid with just over seven minutes to play.

"I never thought about the shutout," Drouin-Deslauriers said.

"I was just thinking about winning the game. To me it was more important to get the shutout."

It has been a tough season for Drouin-Deslauriers. After battling for four season just to get to the NHL, the Quebec native shared the Oilers net with Roloson and Mathieu Garon to start the year.

Eventually Garon was traded, but the Oilers rode Roloson exclusively in their pursuit of a playoff spot.

"I think I learned a lot," Drouin-Deslauriers said. "I think I had a role to play at different points of the season. I was up for the challenge. I consider myself a team guy so that was my job to do."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


Photos