EDMONTON - Winning isn’t everything in Edmonton right now.
But it was for the Oilers last night. And it was for the guy in goal.
The one thing missing in Devan Dubnyk’s NHL statistics is the same thing that’s been missing with the team that employs him as a custodian of the cord cottage.
Wins. He’s had so few. But last night he got one that the fans and the organization really wanted.
It was 28th versus 29th and the Oilers and New York Islanders would have switched spots in the standings if the Oilers had managed to lose their eighth game in a row.
Sure, when it comes to the NHL entry draft at the end of the year, 29th is better than 28th for the team that finished 30th and picked Taylor Hall last year.
But teaching players how to compete and play with a mindset of going for the Ws is every bit as much the game plan, even if it hasn’t looked like it lately — even if it didn’t look much like it in the second period and much of this game which was boring beyond belief, compared to the gold medal game at the World Juniors the night before.
It was exciting enough for Dubnyk, who registered his third win of the season to make his record 3-3 to go with five overtime/shootout losses.
Remember, this is a guy who couldn’t win for losing until mid-May last year.
He was 0-8-2 when Brian Rafalski scored with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation to send a game to overtime — a game the Oilers would win in a shootout.
It was his first career win.
Few goalies in the entire history of the league had waited longer or played more games before registering victory.
“Wins for me have been tough to come by,” Dubnyk said last night after ending the seven-game losing streak, the Oilers longest of the season.
“I haven’t been letting it bother me. I’ve only had three regulation losses this year. I’ve lost so many in shootouts,” said the twineminder who is 0-4 in shootouts this year having given up eight goals on 15 shots for a .467 percentage.
“It’s time for the numbers to start to add up in the win category.”
His career record is now 7-13-7 but his save percentage finally went over .900 for his career Thursday in the 2-1 win over the Islanders.
Dubnyk’s numbers for the season are excellent.
He has a .918 save percentage and a 2.78 goals against average on a team where no goalie is going to have good numbers. Nicolai Khabibulin has a 3.32 average and a .898 save percentage with an 8-16-2 record.
“It’s great to have an exciting game like that, coming down to the wire to end a losing streak,” said the netminder who had to keep the net empty during 1:33 of 5-on-3 hockey late in the third period.
“He was great. He was excellent,” said coach Tom Renney of the game’s first star.
“He’s a big man and he was in front of every shot. He really stood tall for us.
“He was big in the net and square to the shooter. Any second opportunities they got, he was right there for them. He made a couple big saves on the penalty kill. He was very confident.”
Dubnyk seems to be getting a game every week now from Renney.
“I want to make sure he plays a significant number of games down the stretch here to keep Khabby healthy and ready to go, but also to give the experience and time in goal,” said the head coach.
Dubnyk is just grateful every time he gets a start.
“We haven’t talked about the schedule. But it’s been good to have a chance to come in more than once a month.
“I’m just trying to develop a confidence with the guys on this team. They’re getting good goaltending every night from Khabby. He’s been great every game. I just want them to feel they are going to get good goaltending from me every game I get in there, too.
“My goal is to give them a good effort every single game with a chance to win every single game.”
Renney probably should have played him more to this point. But he’s not going to play him as just a mop-up man or a guy to throw in there on back-to-back situations on tough road trips.
“Just like every other young player on the team, he needs the opportunity to play and show us what he can do and to grow.
“And he’s growing.”
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