SUN Hockey Pool

Khabibulin feelin' sharp

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:48 AM ET

It’s place Nikolai Khabibulin has been thinking about for nearly a year.

On Sunday the Edmonton Oilers goaltender was back in net for the first time since November.

Khabibulin turned away 26 shots in an 8-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

“I was looking forward to the game to see how I’d feel,” Khabibulin said. “I lasted the whole game, so that was good. I liked some things that I did, and there were some things that I need to work on.”

Having signed a four-year deal last off-season, the former Stanley Cup winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning suited up for just 18 games before his back gave out, requiring surgery.

Now considered 100% healthy, Khabibulin will work and regaining his form.

“It’s just a matter of getting used to all the traffic and all the stuff in close when players go to the net hard,” he said. “ I think that’s the first thing that goes when you miss some time, you kind of lose that a little bit.”

Being his first start, of the pre-season, it was uncertain if he would be able to play the entire game.

However, despite a couple of busy spurts in the third period, Khabibulin had a relatively quiet night.

“I was a little bit tired after two periods but about five or six minutes into the third I started to feel really good,” he said. “It’s nice to see us score a lot of goals from different guys. If that transfers into the season it will be great, but you can’t expect to score five or six goals every game.”

With three pre-season left games on the schedule, Khabibulin is expected to get at least another start before the regular season.

“I thought he was good, he had good concentration,” said Renney. “I didn’t have to worry about a lot of second shots, but I thought he had his eye on the puck well and was square. I didn’t see him flopping around. He’s experienced enough to stay with it and not get too rambunctious in the net. From his perspective I thought he looked pretty solid.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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