EDMONTON, Alberta (AP)– Devan Dubnyk is playing as though he plans to keep his starting spot for a while.
Dubnyk made 31 saves and the Oilers beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Tuesday night, giving Edmonton two wins in three straight games with Dubnyk in goal.
Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Eric Belanger scored for the Oilers, who had lost eight of nine before going 2-0-1 in their last three. Dubnyk, the backup to Nikolai Khabibulin for the bulk of the season, has made 118 saves during his three-game run.
“It’s been nice to get the opportunity to keep going and roll with it,” Dubnyk 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 (and) keep doing it.”
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 scoring 3 minutes in when Ben Eager sprung Anton Lander on a breakaway. Lander had Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov beat with a backhand that hit the post and rattled out of harm’s way.
Just 2 minutes later the Oilers went ahead as 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 second shift of his NHL debut.
Edmonton kept the pressure coming with 5 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 2 minutes remaining in the first when Belanger blasted home 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 season.
“It looked like two teams that were going to have another day off,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said after his team’s first game since the All-Star break. “They came at us after the first and got a goal. They attacked us and Dubnyk had to be good.”
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 6 minutes into the third when Varlamov allowed a big rebound on Hemsky’s 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 Milan Hejduk‘s 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 2 minutes to play to preserve the win.
Notes: Edmonton has won three of four meetings between the teams this season. … Colorado is tied for the most games played this season with Carolina. … Eager returned from injury, one game after veteran defenseman Ryan Whitney rejoined the team. Rookie phenom Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and defensemen Tom Gilbert and Cam Barker have all resumed skating and could be back within a week. … Eberle’s goal was his 19th of the season. He had 18 as a rookie last season. … Colorado’s Matt Duchene (knee) remains out indefinitely.
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