EDMONTON - The next morning, Devan Dubnyk was still beaming.
After collecting his first career shutout in Monday’s 4-0 win over the Nashville Predators, the Oilers goaltender was savouring the accomplishment following an off-ice workout on Tuesday.
But today his focus is on the the Chicago Blackhawks, who invade Rexall Place tonight.
“It still feels good; it kind of settles in. It was great to get the first one out of the way,” said Dubnyk. “I’ve come close a couple of times. Obviously, the most important thing was to get the win ... but as soon as you get up three or four goals, it’s kind of tough not to think about (the shutout) as the game winds down.
“I thought the guys did a good job fighting hard right to the end for me.”
Dubnyk had to work to get the goose egg, turning aside 37 shots as the Predators took the play to the Oilers early and then made a charge late.
He stopped 16 shots in the first period and 15 in the third. He also had the help of his goal post on a couple of occasions.
“I think I started that Nashville storm early on with a turnover behind the net and I was a little frustrated with myself for that one,” Dubnyk said.
“But right from the start of the game, I wanted to make sure they didn’t get one early. I was really trying to shut them down for the first 20 minutes and then see what we could do from there.”
Dubnyk’s performance eaned him tonight’s start against the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
Despite being the backup to Nikolai Khabibulin this year, Dubnyk’s play is expected to see him win more ice time — especially considering the other guy has lost 13 straight.
“Devan has had some ups and downs this season, like the whole team, but things have been developing nicely for him,” said Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger.
“He’s got a very bright future. He’s been working very hard every day and working together with Khabibulin on his development.
“You have to like the way he’s developing. If you look at the way he’s using his size and getting more and more comfortable at this level, it’s exciting for the future of the organization.”
Heading into tonight, Dubnyk, 24, has a 6-5-6 record, with a 2.74 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
By comparison, Khabibulin, who still has two years left on his contract after this season, is 8-24-2, with a 3.46 goals against average and .891 save percentage.
The Oilers have 29 games left in the season, with no chance of making the playoffs.
“I’m not sure how many games I’ll play down the stretch ... we’ll see how it goes,” said Dubnyk.
“Maybe I’ll get a chance to play 10 to 15 of them, but I’m really not sure. As this goes along and I feel better with each game I play, I just want to keep playing and not let thoughts creep into my head about how many games I’m going to be in.
“I’m still a young goalie, I only have 38 games in the league, so I still need to be earning my ice time.
“Every time I get out there I have to earn my next start, until you kind of establish yourself.
“That’s what I’m going to try to continue to do.”