NEWARK, N.J. – Edmonton goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers was well prepared for his second career NHL start.
“I kind of knew what to expect,” Drouin-Deslauriers said. “The first one is always something new. It’s always something special. You think you know what to expect, but it’s always an unreal feeling.” The 24-year-old rookie made 37 saves to help the Oilers beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Sunday night.
In his first start since Oct. 17, Drouin-Deslauriers made several key saves to protect the lead, including a shot from Travis Zajac in front of the net with less than 20 seconds left in the game.
Twenty of those stops came in the second period. During a New Jersey power play midway through the period, Drouin-Deslauriers stopped Dainius Zubrus twice and made a glove save on Johnny Oduya’s shot from the blue-line to preserve a 1-0 advantage.
“I thought he played well for them,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “We had some quality scoring chances here. I thought he made some good saves and played pretty solid for them.”
Drouin-Deslauriers came on in relief in Edmonton’s last game, making 14 saves without allowing a goal in a 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh. Drouin-Deslauriers has won both of his starts and is making his case for a larger role in the Oilers’ three-goalie rotation with veterans Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson.
“I try to not focus on that,” Drouin-Deslauriers said. “I try to focus on what I can control. I prepare myself like I’m playing every night even if I’m not.”
Ales Hemsky had a goal and an assist.
Hemsky scored a goal in his fourth consecutive game when he skated past two defenders before an attempt to poke the puck away by New Jersey’s Jay Leach deflected off Hemsky’s left skate and into the net for a power-play goal that was reviewed, but upheld with 6:11 left in the second. Lubomir Visnovsky and Drouin-Deslauriers assisted on Hemsky’s fifth goal of the season, giving Edmonton a two-goal cushion.
Hemsky has five goals and four assists in the past four contests.
Former Devil Sheldon Souray opened the scoring with 12:41 left in the second when he rifled a wrist shot through Scott Clemmensen’s legs. Hemsky and Visnovsky earned the assists on the goal, Souray’s fifth of the season.
New Jersey finally broke through against Drouin-Deslauriers with 16:10 left in the third period when Zach Parise redirected a Zajac shot with 16:10 left in the third. Oduya added an assist on the goal, Parise’s 11th of the season.
The Devils tried to rally back and tie the game, but were hurt by a pair of minor penalties in the final minutes. Zajac was sent off for goalkeeper interference with 5:03 remaining in the third and captain Jamie Langenbruner was whistled for a hooking penalty with 1:18 left.
Making his first NHL start since Jan. 3, Clemmensen made 26 saves as New Jersey fell to 1-3 since all-star goalie Martin Brodeur went down with a torn left biceps.
Notes: Brian Gionta and D Bryce Salvador were scratched for New Jersey. Both left a loss Saturday to Detroit in the second period … The Devils recalled Patrick Davis and Leach from Lowell (AHL) … The Oilers are 3-3-0 on their seven-game road trip, which concludes Monday night against the New York Rangers.