SUN Hockey Pool

Khabby couldn't keep Oilers in it

Ottawa Senators' Milan Michalek (L) and Colin Greening (R) go for the loose puck in front of...

Ottawa Senators' Milan Michalek (L) and Colin Greening (R) go for the loose puck in front of Edmonton Oilers' goalie Nikolai Khabibulin during their NHL hockey game in Edmonton November 17, 2011. (REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber)

Derek Van Diest, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

EDMONTON - Nikolai Khabibulin had to stand around and do a lot of waiting before getting a look at the puck Thursday against the Ottawa Senators.

And then all he could do was dig it out of his own net.

Khabibulin didn’t get beyond the first period, giving up three goals on seven shots as the Edmonton Oilers fell 5-2 to the Senators.

He gave up goals on the first two shots he faced, then let the last one he saw get past him just before the end of the first period.

“It was a tough game to get into,” said Khabibulin. “I didn’t get a shot, I didn’t even get to touch the puck. Sometimes you stay in the game playing the puck and stuff. Tonight was tough because I didn’t even get to play it.”

The Oilers came out of the gate strong and were all over the Senators in the early going.

With most of the play in the Senators’ end, Khabibulin didn’t see a shot until the 7:30 mark of the period.

Unfortunately for the Oilers goaltender, Colin Greening converted a feed from Milan Michalek on a two-on-one rush to give the visitors the lead.

“I don’t want to make excuses out of it,” said Khabibulin. “Sometimes it’s hard to get in the game. Then they scored a couple of quick goals and all of a sudden our game plan shattered. We deviated from the things we had to do.”

Just nine seconds later, Kaspars Daugavins snapped a shot over Khabibulin to give the Senators a two-goal lead, sucking the life out of the Oilers.

“It was right off the face-off after their first goal,” Khabibulin said. “Obviously in a game like this, you want to start well, so I would have liked to have made that save or at least one of the two, but I didn’t do it tonight.”

Heading into the game, Khabibulin had been one of the Oilers’ best players this season. He was the main reason the club got off to a 9-2-2 start and was rewarded for his efforts by being named the Molson Cup star player of the month where a $1,000 was donated in his name to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

However, by the time Milan Michalek put the Senators up by three goals, it was evident Khabibulin’s night would come to a premature end.

“It was off a face-off and I yelled to the defenceman that I couldn’t see and I think he tried to get out of the way so I could see the puck,” Khabibulin said. “But I think he shot is as I was speaking and I didn’t pick it up in time.”

Despite the Oilers giving up five goals on 16 shots in the contest, head coach Tom Renney was not about to put the blame on his goaltenders.

“I think it comes back to what are we doing in front of these guys to help them makes saves,” Renney said. “Odd man rushes are tough at the best of times, but when they have two guys come at you and there’s one pass across and the shot is a rope, that’s hard to handle.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

@SUNdvandiest


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