Aubin back in the game

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jean-Sebastien Aubin never gave up on returning to the NHL.

In his first NHL appearance in almost two years, Aubin was outstanding last night and earned first-star honours with a 35-save performance against the New Jersey Devils.

"With the experience I have, I knew I would have a chance somewhere," Aubin, 28, said. "It's just great to get a chance to play and I'll go from there. It was big. I was thinking about it a lot."

BACKUP ROLE

Aubin had 168 NHL games under his belt, all with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played 23 games with St. John's during the lockout and was thought to have a good shot at earning the backup role behind Ed Belfour when training camp opened last fall. But he suffered a groin injury and never had a true opportunity to challenge Mikael Tellqvist for the job. Aubin was recalled from the Toronto Marlies when Belfour's season ended because of his bad back.

Strangely, Aubin had little success against the Devils when he was with the Penguins, going 2-9. No NHL club has beaten him more.

"He saved our bacon at the end there," coach Pat Quinn said of a late flurry by the Devils with goaltender Martin Brodeur on the bench. "We all remember he had a successful time with Pittsburgh and for a while he did not get those opportunities. He is following his profession and waiting for a chance to get back in."

Suddenly, Quinn has a small dilemma. Does he go back to the hot Aubin, hoping his outing was not a one-shot deal, and thereby hurt Tellqvist's confidence? Or does he put Tellqvist in against the Flyers in Philadelphia tomorrow night and hope he can be as good as Aubin?

"I don't know," Quinn said. "No question, Telly has played some good hockey for us."

Aubin needed a bit of luck last night. Tomas Kaberle knocked clear the puck late in the game as it trickled toward the goal line, which would have made it 4-4. But there is no doubt Aubin should get full marks for doing his part.


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