Deslauriers slams door

Oilers' Zack Stortini punches Coyotes' Paul Bissonnette during first period action at Rexall Place...

Oilers' Zack Stortini punches Coyotes' Paul Bissonnette during first period action at Rexall Place on Monday. (Sun Media/Amber Bracken)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Talk about the right team at the right time.

Taking on as much water as any ship can possibly take on without sinking to the bottom of the ocean -- not that 12th place is very far from there -- the Edmonton Oilers were in desperate need of a bailout.

And there's been no better bucket for this team than the Coyotes.

With a 31-10-3-5 record against Phoenix since the Winnipeg Jets moved to the desert in 1996, it's a wonder the Oilers didn't pick their favourite whipping posts up at the airport and chauffeur them to the rink.

Instead, they drove home a very much needed 4-0 victory last night.

"We did well tonight," said head coach Pat Quinn, who hasn't been able to say that in awhile.

"Early on, it looked like we had an idea of what we wanted to do. We started to move the puck with authority and our guys had some jump.

"And then in the third period our goaltender preserved what could have been a different ending. He was really good."

After Quinn called in a few of his veterans on Sunday morning for a sit-down to discuss the team's recent futility, you could set your watch by this one.

And sure enough, the leaders led -- which isn't something you would normally make note of -- but it's been that kind of month for the Oilers, who won for just the fourth time in 15 games.

Their best player might have been in goal, though, as Jeff Deslauriers, who surrendered five goals in Saturday's loss to Chicago, stopped 36 shots for his first NHL shutout.

"You saw the difference right away," said Quinn. "The other night he looked nervous and pucks bounced off him. Tonight, the very first shot, he absorbed it, it didn't go anywhere.

"He got by whatever jitters he had before."

Deslauriers confirmed that this one was all mental.

"First shutout is something special ... it's a good feeling to be in that club now," he said.

"It was maybe not technically the best game, but I just went in there and thought about stopping the puck, no matter how -- hands, stick --less thinking and more stopping."

There was plenty of stopping to be done, too.

The Oilers didn't exactly lock it down for the kid -- they were outshot 15-6 in the third -- but he closed the deal under pressure.

"He earned that shutout tonight," grinned Shawn Horcoff, who scored his fifth of the season in the win.

"Especially in the third period. We made him work for it, but he's shown that when he's on his game he's pretty good."

So were the Oilers, who did most of their damage in a four-minute span in the first.

Ethan Moreau at 7:59, a Chicago own-goal at 11:07 and Ales Hemsky's turnover conversion, on the ensuing faceoff, at 11:14.

The two gimmes in seven seconds were the fastest two regular-season goals in franchise history, breaking the eight-second span set by Glenn Anderson and Wayne Gretzky in 1982.

"We started really good, got some confidence and carried on," said Hemsky.

"We kind of slowed down in the third period, but it was a pretty good effort."

Kind of slowed down? They were hanging on for dear life.

"It made for a good early performance ... until we got fat and happy," sighed Quinn.

"I don't know why this team ever would have that happen to them because we haven't accomplished squat yet. But we got pretty comfortable in the third.

"These are things we have to learn. We're not there. It shows the immaturity sometimes."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos