Having been called up two days earlier for the first time in his career, Kevin Poulin didn’t expect to play on Thursday.
The New York Islanders goaltender figured he would get a good view of the game against the Edmonton Oilers from the bench, cheer on the team when required and tend the gate.
Yet five minutes into the contest, the rookie was thrown to the wolves after starter Nathan Lawson let in a pair of goals on three shots.
“I was really surprised actually,” said Poulin, who stopped everything he faced as the Islanders lost 2-1. “But I was really excited. I think it was a great first game for me in the NHL. It was unbelievable.
A native of Montreal, Poulin, 20, was selected by the Islanders in the fifth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
He’s played 14 games for the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport this season, amassing a 10-4 record with a 2.13 goals against average and .931 save percentage. Prior to that, he spent four years in the QMJHL with the Victoriaville Tigres.
“He’s a pretty confident kid who had a great career in the Quebec League,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. “I saw him quite a bit in Bridgeport and he’s quite the competitor.
With Rick DiPietro out with a groin injury and veteran Dwayne Roloson traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier in the week, the Islanders were short on goaltending experience heading into the contest.
Poulin came in and stopped all 19 shots he faced.
“I was pretty comfortable on the ice,” Poulin said. “My defencemen did a good job of clearing the front of the net and letting me see the puck.