EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers’ league-worst penalty-killing unit didn’t look so bad on Thursday.
Dustin Penner had a short-handed goal and an assist and Edmonton’s penalty killers stopped all seven New York opportunities, including a late five-on-three, as the Oilers edged the Islanders 2-1 to snap a seven-game losing streak.
“I think the last four or five games we have been getting better on our penalty kill,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “Tonight was kind of the capper. It won us the hockey game.”
Renney wasn’t completely sure it was a game the Oilers deserved to win.
“I’m not sure we were anywhere near what we needed to be to beat this hockey team,” he said. “We have to be better than we were tonight.”
Gilbert Brule also scored for the Oilers (13-19-7), who have just two wins in 11 games and were in the midst of their worst skid since an epic 13-game slide from Dec. 31 to Jan. 30 of last season.
Oilers starter Devan Dubnyk stood tall in the Edmonton net, stopping 30 of 31 shots
“I just want them to feel they are going to get good goaltending from me every game I get in there,” he said. “My goal is to give them a good effort every single game with a chance to win every single game.”
Blake Comeau replied for the Islanders (12-20-6), who lost for the first time in four games and fell three points behind the Oilers for 28th in the overall standings.
“We played 40 minutes tonight,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. “I’ll take responsibility for that. The first period, we didn’t do anything at all.”
A bright spot for the Islanders was the NHL debut of goalie Kevin Poulin, coming in and stopping all 19 shots he faced in relief of starter Nathan Lawson who got the hook five minutes in after allowing two goals on three shots.
“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.
“In a perfect world we would have won 3-2, but I’m still excited about getting a chance to play in my first career game. I’m pretty happy.”
Dubnyk was tested early as the Islanders first shot of the game less than two minutes in was a breakaway. But the Edmonton goalie stopped Michael Grabner.
Edmonton took a 1-0 lead 3:22 into the first as Andrew Cogliano’s shot went wide but bounced off the boards back in front to Brule, who slipped the puck through the Lawson’s legs.
Penner put Edmonton ahead 2-0 two minutes later. He beat two defenders for a partial breakaway while short-handed then scored on Lawson with a backhand shot. Lawson was then replaced by Poulin, an emergency call-up from Bridgeport Sound when Rick DiPietro was injured on Monday in Calgary.
Comeau put the Islanders on the board with eight minutes remaining in the second. Rob Schremp fed a pass from behind the net to Comeau, who beat Dubnyk with a quick shot to make it 2-1.
Edmonton caught a break midway through the third as the Islanders had a goal disallowed after the referee had already blown his whistle.
New York had a huge opportunity with a lengthy two-man power play with five minutes left in the period. But Dubnyk and Edmonton’s penalty killers preserved the victory.
The Oilers begin a five-game road trip Friday in Vancouver while the Islanders next hit the ice for the fourth game of their five-game trip Saturday in Colorado.
NOTES: It was the only meeting of the season between the two teams. They haven’t faced each other since Nov. 2, 2009, when the Islanders earned a 3-1 victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum… Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle, already expected to be out two-to-three weeks with an ankle injury, underwent an emergency appendectomy Wednesday night… Edmonton inserted Steve MacIntyre and Jason Strudwick into the lineup while removing J.F. Jacques and Kurtis Foster…Islanders centre Frans Nielsen didn’t dress due to a groin injury… Schremp played his first-ever game against the Oilers after being waived by Edmonton before the 2009-10 season… New York is now 8-10-3 under coach Jack Capuano, who replaced Scott Gordon in mid-November…. Edmonton defenceman Jim Vandermeer left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.