EDMONTON – Devan Dubnyk is doing everything he can to remain the Edmonton Oilers’ starting goaltender.
Dubnyk made 31 saves and the Oilers beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Tuesday.
Edmonton has two wins in three straight games with Dubnyk in goal.
Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Eric Belanger scored for the Oilers (19-26-5), who prior to the last three games had lost eight of the nine.
Dubnyk, who has served as the backup to Nikolai Khabibulin for the bulk of the season, has been forced to make a total of 118 saves during his three-game run.
“It’s been nice to get the opportunity to keep going and roll with it,”he said.“I have felt good throughout the year but there were some small things that I needed to work on to get to this point. I certainly can’t take it for granted. I have to keep my nose down and realize what is allowing me to do this to keep doing it.”
Dubnyk kept the Oilers in the contest after they slowed down dramatically from a good start to the contest.<
“It looked like two teams that were going to have another day off,”said Edmonton head coach Tom Renney of the first match since the NHL’s all-star break.“They came at us after the first and got a goal. They attacked us and Dubnyk had to be good.”
Peter Mueller and Gabriel Landeskog responded for the Avalanche (26-24-2), who have lost three in a row and have fallen out of a playoff position.
Colorado coach Joe Sacco said his team can’t afford to keep giving up points at this time of the year.
“There wasn’t enough (desperation),”he said.“This is playoff hockey for us right now and we need to have more urgency right from the start. You have to be ready to start on time in this league. This is a no-excuse business.”
Edmonton came close to starting the scoring three minutes in when Ben Eager sprung Anton Lander on a breakaway. Lander had Colorado starter Semyon Varlamov beat with a backhand that hit the post and rattled out of harm’s way.
Two minutes later it was a 1-0 game for the Oilers when Eberle swung around from behind the net and used his second whack to stuff the puck between the post and Varlamov’s skate. AHL call-up Philippe Cornet earned an assist on the goal in just the second shift of his NHL debut.
Edmonton kept the pressure coming with five minutes left in the opening frame when Ales Hemsky had the Colorado netminder beat but hit the team’s second post of the night.
The Oilers made it 2-0 on the power play with just over two minutes remaining in the first when Belanger blasted home just his second of the season from the top of the circle.
Colorado had its best chance to that point seconds later when Chuck Kobasew almost had a short-handed break on the second half of a double-minor penalty, but Dubnyk hustled out of the net to poke-check the puck away.
The Avalanche made it a 2-1 game just over a minute into the second period when Kobasew through the puck through the crease and Mueller was able to whack in his fourth of the year.
Two minutes later it was Edmonton’s turn to be saved by a post when Ryan O’Byrne unleashed a point shot that had Dubnyk beat but rattled soundly off the cage.
The Oilers regained their two-goal advantage six minutes into the third when Varlamov allowed a big rebound on a Hemsky shot and Hall was there to shovel in his 17th of the season.
“It was nice to get that one and hold on in the end. Nice to get the win,”Hall said.
Colorado cut the lead to 3-2 midway through the third when Dubnyk was able to make a stop on a Milan Hejduk backhander but couldn’t get back in position to stop Landeskog, who was left pretty much alone in front of the net, from lifting in the rebound.
Dubnyk came up with a huge glove save to rob Ryan O’Reilly at the side of the net with two minutes to play to preserve the win.
Both teams return to the ice on Thursday when the Oilers play host to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Avalanche return to Colorado to start a four-game homestand against Minnesota.
Notes: It was the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. Edmonton won two of the first three. a The Oilers have had a strong record of late at home against the Avs, taking points in 12 of the last 13 games with an 8-1-4 record. a Colorado is tied for the most games played this season with Carolina. a Edmonton has had more than its fair share of injures this season but the players are starting to return to the lineup. Forward Ben Eager was the latest to return on Tuesday, one game after veteran defenceman Ryan Whitney rejoined the team. Rookie phenom Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and defencemen Tom Gilbert and Cam Barker have all resumed skating and could be back within a week. a Jordan Eberle’s goal was his 19th of the season. He had 18 in his rookie season last year. a Colorado’s Matt Duchene (knee) is still reportedly several weeks away from returning to the lineup and remains out indefinitely.