TORONTO — Three road wins in a row. Three different goalies.
Is it the men in the masks, or the players in front of them who are responsible for Edmonton’s stunning reversal of fortune?
“It’s coaching,” joked head coach Tom Renney, after Nikolai Khabibulin, Devan Dubnyk and Martin Gerber combined to beat Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa in a span of four nights. “It’s Freddie Chabot.”
It wouldn’t be a bad time for the goalie coach to suggest a pay hike in the wake of three stellar efforts from the tenders, who allowed just four goals in 12 periods and change (95 shots).
“It’s gratifying,” said Renney. “It just goes to show you we have some real character people at that position, guys who want badly to win for their hockey club. It shows, quite honestly, that management made some good decisions on some people.”
No one knew what they get from Khabibulin in his first game back after missing seven starts with groin trouble, but found out early, when he sent Edmonton to the dressing room with a 1-0 lead despite being outshot 12-4.
“I felt pretty good, I didn’t miss that much time,” said Khabibulin, who finished with a 33-save shutout. “I just wanted to win, whatever the score would be. We were playing better the last five or six games, especially tonight. We took care of the area around the net pretty well.”
The Russian was being a little modest, if you ask his teammates.
“He stood on his head,” said Jordan Eberle. “It’s an easy game to play when you have a goalie like that, who can make a save for you when you need one.”
Dubnyk had the night off Thursday after the win in Montreal Wednesday night. Renney wanted to get the sophomore into the rotation quickly, between Gerber’s great work after being called up from Oklahoma City and Khabibulin’s return from a groin strain.
“It was important, obviously to come back to him,” said Renney. “It would have been easy to keep Khabby on IR and go back with Gerber but that’s not what this is about.
“This is a young goaltender, no different than some of our young skaters, who needs an opportunity to play, grow and develop and experience the challenges of the game. That was our intention Wednesday and he came up big doing it.”
EB AND FLOW:
Eberle’s goal was his first in 16 games, not that he was counting.
OK, he was, but he wasn’t freaking out about it, given that he had eight assists in that span.
“I’d be worried if I wasn’t getting chances or wasn’t doing anything out there, but that wasn’t the case. It didn’t feel that long, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it felt good to see the puck go in the net.”
CHEAP SEATS: Taylor Hall had 30 friends and family in the seats, didn’t cost him a dime. They all bought their own tickets.
“All in all, in three games on this trip, I only had to buy two tickets,” he said. “I think they understand that we don’t get tickets for free.”
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