EDMONTON - Andy Sutton wasn’t sure what the league’s reaction to his hit on Gabriel Landeskog would be following the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
The Oilers defenceman will find out Monday, summoned to a hearing in New York with the NHL’s disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.
Sutton was assessed an elbowing minor, then took on Shane O’Brien in an ensuing fight after unloading on Landeskog in the neutral zone.
“You usually figure someone is coming at you, especially when you hit a young guy,” Sutton said. “But O’Brien does a great job, he knows his role out there, I have a lot of respect for him.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’d do it again.”
Sutton is suspended for the Oilers contest against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday pending the hearing.
Considering the length of suspensions Shanahan was handing out in the pre-season and the fact Sutton is considered a repeat offender, he could be out of the Oilers lineup for some time.
As a member of the New York Islanders, Sutton was suspended for two games in January 2010 after a hit on Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis.
It would be a big loss for the Oilers who have played exceptionally well defensively this season and are already without the services of Ryan Whitney, who injured his knee on Tuesday in a game against the Vancouver Canucks.
In Denver, the Oilers were once again stingy defensively in their win over the Avalanche.
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk was outstanding, making 40 saves in the victory. He had been a spectator in the previous four games, watching Nikolai Khabibulin frustrate shooters to the tune of a league-best 0.97 goals against average.
“These guys are fueling one another to be better,” Sutton said. “So far, they’re playing unbelievably and we’re getting incredible efforts from both of them.”
On their way to possession of top spot in the Western Conference, the Oilers have managed to find themselves on the right side of tight games and have fended off some high-powered offences.
Few could have predicted they would have been able to hold off the Washington Capitals one night, then travel to Denver and beat the Colorado Avalanche the next.
“(Friday) was a pretty resilient game,” said Oilers defenceman Cam Barker, who also scored in the win. “We didn’t play a picture-perfect game and there are definitely areas where we can improve.
“Dubnyk played absolutely amazing and we scored when we needed to. It doesn’t always work out that way, but luckily, he played the way he did.”
While their goaltending has been excellent, it isn’t the only reason the Oilers have only given up a league low 14 goals in regulation this season. Two goals have been added to their totals due to a pair of shootout losses.
“The guys are doing an amazing job blocking shots, that’s been well documented and for good reason,” Dubnyk said. “Guys are doing a great job in front and when the shots don’t get blocked, there is a really good battle level in front by the defencemen. It’s noticeable and helps and it certainly makes mine and Khabby’s job easier.”
On Friday, the defence chipped in at both ends of the ice.
Barker scored the opening goal, while Sutton netted the eventual winner.
“We haven’t had a lot of secondary scoring and very little five on five and if any from our back end,” Sutton said. “The message was delivered to try and help out, join rushes. It’s a little bit of what happened (Friday).”
Sutton’s goal came on an odd-man rush, when the six-foot-six defenceman charged for the front of the net, cast an enormous shadow on goaltender Semyon Varlamov and tipped a Lennart Petrell point shot.
It was his first goal as a member of the Oilers.
“We had the puck in a good position,” Sutton said. “You’re not taking any unnecessary chances at that point, we had lots of numbers back, and good players with the puck, so I was just trying to activate and add that second wave. It always feels good to score.”