SUN Hockey Pool

Dubnyk better, at least

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Devan Dubnyk needed a solid outing.

Not a great one, or one where he had to steal points for the Edmonton Oilers, just one he could build a base on.

Last night against a team struggling almost as much as his own, Dubnyk got his base outing, making 26 saves in a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I felt pretty good out there," Dubnyk said. "I thought the two goals in the third period, one was unlucky and the other one was a pretty good play with no angle.

"I just wanted to go out there and improve on last time."

14TH PICK

With Jeff Deslauriers getting the majority of the carries since Nikolai Khabibulin went down with a back injury, it had been a while between starts for the Oilers first-round pick -- 14th overall -- in the 2004 NHL Entry draft.

In his previous and only NHL start, the native of Regina was lit up like a Christmas tree, giving up seven goals on 26 shots in a 7-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Last night, Dubnyk nearly conceded a goal on the first shot he faced, but settled down as the contest went on.

"Surprisingly, I wasn't nervous," Dubnyk said.

"After a disappointing outing last time, I watched some of the tape and I felt I was pretty deep in my net.

"Going back to Springfield for a couple of games, and playing well in those games, helped me get back to feeling good and helped me remember how I play and what makes me successful. I was excited more than anything to do what I can do. It was a disappointing loss, but I felt OK out there."

RJ Umberger scored the first goal of the night for the Blue Jackets, fending off defenceman Steve Staios in front of the net and lifting a backhand over the Oilers goaltender.

Antoine Vermette beat Dubnyk in the second with an uncontested shot from the slot.

After the Oilers tied the game in the third, Kristian Huselius netted the eventual winner, collecting the puck at the side of the net and firing it in from a tight angle.

Jan Hejda added a fourth as his point shot deflected off Patrick O'Sullivan's stick and into the net.

"I thought he played well tonight," said Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert. "He made some great plays, was handling it well and was able to make the save when he could see the puck.

"I don't think the goals that went in, he had much of a chance on. One of them was tipped, the others were shots from the slot that are tough saves to make."

MORE CHANCES

With no timeline on Khabibulin's return and essentially little left for the Oilers to play for this season in terms of a playoff spot, it's expected Dubnyk will draw in more often, especially since he's considered the Oilers' goaltender of the future.

Despite the team's struggles, the rookie is just happy to be here.

"Every single day I try to just remember where I am," he said.

"I worked my entire life to get here. It's easy to get caught up in all that other stuff (losing) and forget that. I think it's healthy to just kind of sit down and reflect a little bit on where I am, not to be satisfied with it, but enjoy it and be excited to be here."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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