EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers finally got a win without the usual extra drama.
Mathieu Garon made 35 saves for his third shutout of the season and Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff chipped in with a goal and an assist apiece as the Oilers finally won in regulation for the first time in 17 games, cruising to a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders on Monday night.
Marty Reasoner and Jarret Stoll also scored for Edmonton.
Garon, who was recently named the go-to goalie for the team, made his fourth consecutive start in place of Dwayne Roloson.
“I’m feeling really good and very confident right now,” said Garon, who turns 30 on Wednesday. “But the way we were playing it always helps a goalie. Defensively we are playing huge. Having a chance to play a lot of games is even better for me and I just want to make sure I make the most of this chance. It felt good to get the shutout.”
It was the second win in a row for the Oilers (19-21-4) in the second game of a crucial five-game homestand as they try to move back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
The victory was Edmonton’s first in regulation since Dec. 2, though the Oilers did manage six overtime and shootout victories in that span.
“To win one by a couple goals, it’s been a while since we’ve done that,” said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. “It’s never a good sign when you can’t remember the last time in regulation, it’s been so long.
“From a coaching perspective it was just what the doctor ordered through two games of this homestand. We eke one out in the first game against the Rangers and then get a real confidence build in the second one. We have talked about how we have to put a streak together here and this is going to make us a more confident and energetic group.”
The coach wasn’t the only one in the Oilers locker-room to breathe a little easier about not having another last minute cardiac contest.
“It wasn’t a high-speed type of game so it was nice to have a more relaxing game,” Hemsky said. “To get away from the type of game we seem to have all the time was very nice.”
“Just to have an easy game, I can’t tell you the last time we had one of those,” added Horcoff. “They are few and far between. To win the first two games of a five game homestand, that was big for us and gives us the opportunity to do something special for the last three games. It was a big confidence builder for us.”
It was the third consecutive loss for the Islanders (20-17-4) who remained tied with Philadelphia for eighth in the East.
“When you lose 4-0, we’re battling for a playoff spot, its disappointing,” said defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron. “But i’s just another game, weve got to turn the page and keep going. It’s a long season, I know its a broken record, but that’s what it is.”
With only one goal in their last two games the Islanders have to be wondering where their offence has gone of late.
“I I don’t have the answer,” Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro said. “I think we’ve got to continue to get shots at the net, but at the same time we need more traffic. Cause the goalie to be a little bit uncomfortable and drop some rebounds.”
The Oilers outshot New York 12-10 in the first period but both Garon and DiPietro stood their ground in a scoreless first period.
Edmonton opened the scoring 1:11 into the second as Hemsky took a low percentage shot that whistled through the legs of defenceman Brendan Witt before beating DiPietro five-hole.
The Oilers extended the lead five minutes later. Dustin Penner banked a pass from the sideboards to Hemsky and he found Horcoff, who scored his 100th career NHL goal on a backhand shot.
The advantage grew to 3-0 midway through the period as Stoll beat Mike Comrie in a race for the puck and fed Reasoner, who feathered a shot stick-side along the ice past DiPietro.
The Islanders had a good chance to get back into the game with three and a half minutes to go when a Comrie tip dribbled behind Garon, but the Oilers netminder pounced on the luck before it crossed the line.
Edmonton closed the scoring on a third-period power play, as Stoll took a Horcoff pass and fired a slap shot past DiPietro.
The Islanders are back in action on Tuesday in Vancouver while Edmonton continues its homestand Thursday against Phoenix.
Notes: The Oilers have announced that winger Raffi Torres will need season-ending surgery on his right knee. Torres, who has been on injured reserve since Dec. 15 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, had five goals and 11 points in 32 games before the injury It was the first meeting between the two teams since the Oilers sent Ryan Smyth to New York at last year’s trade deadline for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra and a first round draft pick (defenceman Alex Plante). Nilsson was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game DiPietro was 3-0 lifetime against the Oilers entering Monday while Garon made his first career start against the Islanders.