Oilers' Deslauriers denies depleted Devils
Stops 37 of 38 shots against a New Jersey squad minus Brodeur, Holik, Gionta
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers might be speeding up Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini's thought process should he wish to find a solution to the team's three-headed goalie monster.
New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello, perhaps the perfect trade partner with future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur sidelined three to four months, had an up-close look at the Oilers Sunday night.
What he witnessed was a Brodeur-like performance from Deslauriers, who stopped 37 shots in a 2-1 Edmonton victory over the hometown Devils.
The 24-year-old rookie stood tall in the third period, making 11 saves with New Jersey pressing after Zach Parise cut the Oilers' 2-0 lead in half at the 3:50 mark.
"I try to not focus on that," said Deslauriers of his team's crowded situation in goal. "I try to focus on what I can control. I prepare myself like I'm playing every night even if I'm not."
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner sealed New Jersey's fate when he was called for hooking with 78 seconds left in regulation.
Ales Hemsky and former Devils defenceman Sheldon Souray scored for Edmonton, which has taken four of the five meetings between the teams since the 2001-02 NHL season.
The Oilers also improved to 3-3 on their seven-game road trip that concludes Monday night in Manhattan against the New York Rangers.
Deslauriers got the call ahead of the struggling Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon after stopping all 14 shots he faced in a 26-minute relief appearance in Thursday's 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh.
He was at his best in the second period when he stopped 20 shots and robbed Patrik Elias no less than three times, including twice on deflections. During a New Jersey power play midway through the period, Deslauriers stoned 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 head coach Brent Sutter said of Deslauriers. "We had some quality scoring chances here. I thought he made some good saves and played pretty solid for them."
After Parise beat him for his 11th goal of the season, Deslauriers turned away Mike Rupp's screen shot and got strong support from an Oilers defence that welcomed back Denis Grebeshkov from a three-game absence.
Oilers 9th in Western Conference
Deslauriers's other victory this season also came on the road, a 26-save performance in a 4-3 decision over the rival Calgary Flames on Oct. 17.
Sunday's win allowed Edmonton to move past the idle Nashville Predators into ninth place in the Western Conference with a 7-6-1 record.
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish juggled his forward combinations at practice Saturday, breaking up the Kid Line of Sam Gagner between Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson.
Gagner spent Sunday's contest skating alongside Dustin Penner and Hemsky, while Cogliano joined Ethan Moreau and Marc-Andre Pouliot. Nilsson was dropped to the fourth unit with Kyle Brodziak and Zack Stortini.
Scott Clemmensen made his first start in goal for the Devils since Jan. 3 and saw his career mark slip to 8-8-4 following a 26-save effort.
Souray snapped a shot through his legs after corralling a bouncing puck to break a scoreless tie at 7:19 of the second period. Hemsky drew an assist to extend his points streak to six games (five goals, four assists).
Hemsky made it 2-0 less than seven minutes later and has scored a goal in four consecutive games. Skating into the Devils' zone, he made a move on Langenbrunner and then undressed defenceman Colin White before he was poke-checked and had the puck deflect off his skate and cross the goal-line. Deslauriers picked up his first NHL assist on the play.
New Jersey, which fell to 7-5-2 and 1-3 since Brodeur tore his left bicep on Nov. 1, also played without right-winger Brian Gionta, who fell awkwardly into the corner boards in Saturday's 3-1 loss at Detroit. Defenceman Paul Martin and forwards Bobby Holik and Brian Rolston remain sidelined with injuries.
With files from the Associated Press