Khabibulin a game-time call

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

Perhaps it's a consequence of carrying his team for the first quarter of the season.

Nikolai Khabibulin had to miss the Edmonton Oilers game against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday with a back injury.

He wasn't even able to dress as the backup, forcing the Oilers to bring in junior goaltender Torrie Jung to sit on the bench and caddy for Jeff Deslauriers.

"It happened right before the game," said Khabibulin. "I tried to warm up and make it better, but it didn't respond to it. I think as a precautionary thing it was decided to take some time off."

Khabibulin had injured his back a couple of seasons ago, which hasn't flared up since. Up until a couple of days ago, the Oilers goaltender was feeling well.

"All of a sudden in the morning it felt tight and it progressed from there a little bit," he said.

"I don't even know what it is. We're taking it day by day right now. We'll look at it again (today) and see how it feels.

"If it doesn't get any better, we'll probably get an MRI or something and see what it is."

The Oilers biggest free-agent acquisition this summer, Khabibulin has played 18 games so far this season, posting a 7-9-2 record with a 3.03 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.

On a lot of nights he's been the Oilers best player. However, they've been unable to take advantage of his strong play by not helping him out offensively.

Khabibulin is not sure if he'll be able to play tonight when the Oilers host the Phoenix Coyotes. If he's unable to dress, Jeff Deslauriers is expected to make his third consecutive start. Either way the Oilers called up Devan Dubnyk from their AHL affilate in Springfield.

"I've been icing it and then try to warm it up before games," Khabibulin said. "There's not much more you can do about it at this time."


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