Surprising Oilers handcuff Devils

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI , QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:52 PM ET

EDMONTON — If you told the Edmonton Oilers they were only going to score three goals in their last two games it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise given their seeming allergy to twine this season.

But if you told them they’d win both games, well, that’s another story.

In giving up one goal to the Minnesota Wild and none to the New Jersey Devils, the suddenly chintzy Oilers are on a roll.

“JD is the story there, he’s been really sharp in both games,” head coach Pat Quinn said after netminder Jeff Deslauriers posted a 2-0 shutout victory. “We were pretty good in front of him, too, but boy he made some great stops, too.

“He’s not guessing right now, he’s playing like he knows what’s happening out there.”

Any shutout is special, but a shutout against Martin Brodeur is more special than most. Deslauriers will remember his third career goose egg for a long time.

“Brodeur is somebody I admired since I was a kid, I think he’s the strongest goalie mentally in the league,” said the 25-year-old. “You play against somebody like that, who you watched growing up, and see him during the warm-up across the ice. You’re thinking, is this real? He made great saves, too, kept his team in the game.”

When you’re going up against Brodeur and the Devils, you know going in that you can’t give up much, because they seldom do.

“He has a great reputation, you know that you can’t give up bad goals against a team like that because you know he’s going to shut the door,” said Deslauriers, who faced 22 shots. “You have to be sharp.”

The game started out on the wrong foot, absolutely painful to watch as both sides managed two shots each through the first 14 minutes. The shots were 7-3 Devils when the horn put the first period out of its misery.

“We weren’t giving up much, but we weren’t attacking the net the way we need to do,” said Quinn. “But after that our guys picked it up.”

The second frame did indeed begin with a lot more promise - a goal just 83 seconds in from Edmonton’s runaway leader in goals per minutes played, Gilbert Brule.

Even for a forward, beating No. 30 for the Devils is a big deal.

“I’ve just been sneaking into those holes, and to beat Brodeur obviously is a good feeling,” said Brule, who’s tied for second on the team with 14 goals.

The Devils, realizing they’d have to score at least two goals to win, came out of their shell and little bit and it seemed to suit the Oilers just fine. It actually turned into a hockey game for a while, with Edmonton outshooting the Jersey 16-9.

Brodeur kept it 1-0, stacking the pads on Patrick O’Sullivan from point blank range after a Jersey giveaway late in the period.

Deslauriers, getting his second start in a row under Pat Quinn’s win and you’re in philosophy, made his biggest save of the night on Ilya Kovalchuk’s third period breakaway with Edmonton clinging to a 1-0 lead. Not long after that, Robert Nilsson made a diving pass to Marc Pouliot, who wristed his fourth of the year past Brodeur to make it 2-0 Edmonton.

“That was maybe a key save,” said Deslauriers. “If I helped the guys changed the momentum, I’m happy. They came right back with a big goal to make it 2-0, so that gave me a breather as well. It goes both ways.”

Two wins in a row. It’s modest, but it’s fun.

“I think we’re all getting on the same page, from our goaltender out,” said Brule. “I think we’re playing with a lot of determination.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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