GAME DAY: Hartikainen, Dubnyk shine in 2-1 win over Ducks
OILERS 2 - DUCKS 1Teemu Hartikainen scored 15 seconds in, adding another at 6:04 and providing all the offence the Oilers would need. Devan Dubnyk did the rest, stopping 32 shots -- including 15 in a hectic third period -- to propel Edmonton to a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night at the Honda Center.
AT THE MORNING SKATEAs the club's charter was boarded one day ago sans Theo Peckham (concussion), Ladislav Smid (neck) and Jeff Petry (contusion), the Oilers will be heading into tonight's game vs. Anaheim with a new (very, very new) look on D.
Colten Teubert, who's collected two goals and 10 points in 43 games with the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons this season, was recalled on an emergency basis Saturday. The 22-year-old also played in 20 games with the Oilers in 2011-12, notching an assist and 18 penalty minutes, along with a -4 rating.
"We were having a pre-game meal, and I headed back up to the hotel for my nap before the game in Grand Rapids and was told that I had I had to go at 4pm," he said, looking back at Saturday's quick turnaround. "It's been pretty good (in OKC). We were struggling a bit and had to reset, but things are going well right now and we're playing pretty good hockey."
The Barons currently sit atop the AHL's Western Conference standings with a six-point lead over the second place Toronto Marlies. Overall, it's been the perfect environment for Teubert to hone his skill and help Oklahoma City establish credence as one of the league's dominant squads.
Prior to his assignment on Jan. 22, he was given some valuable advice on what needed to improve in order to stick.
"Not running around in my D zone and getting out of position," Teubert explained. "I've been working a lot on having one hand on my stick with our coaches. I always had two hands on my stick and was a bit of a cross-checker. But I didn't realize how often guys can roll off you and take it to the net; so having one hand on my stick in the battles and playing solid is really important.
"I think it's really helped my game, being on the right side of the puck at all times."
It's not the only addition, either. It's been a disappointing season for Cam Barker, as injuries and inconsistent play have limited him to only 21 games; No. 13 has missed the past 15 as a healthy scratch, during which time the Oilers had put together a 6-6-3 string.
He'll get his opportunity now with only four games to play on the team's schedule, hoping for a strong conclusion as he heads into the summer as a restricted free agent. Tonight, he'll be paired with Teubert on the club's third unit, meaning everyone will have a new role as the Ducks play host.
"Ryan (Whitney) will play more," Head Coach Tom Renney said at the team's hotel in Anaheim. "There's no question he'll play more and the others will, too. Cam's an NHL defenceman and Tubes (Teubert) is on the verge of that, so we may play them together, initially. But the big thing for us is team defence and then in transition quick from that, getting pucks team and trying to take away their attack game."
"It's great to get back in," added Barker, who hasn't played since Feb. 29 vs. St. Louis. "It's been a while, so I'm looking forward to it and the next three. It's tough not playing. You want to play, compete and help the team. I've got to keep working hard and hang in there."
"He's been caught in a numbers crunch," Renney said as he addressed the media post-game vs. Los Angeles when the need for No. 13's addition became apparent. "He's a big, strong body; good shot, good passer. If he brings his assets to the rink, it helps us in our own end with his physical attributes. We'll look forward to getting him in and getting him some hockey. He needs that.
"He has to make the best of these three games and we'll certainly give him that opportunity. It's hard when you're thinking, 'Boy, I've got three games to kind of nail down my career.' But that's pro sports and you've got to deal with that."
In other lineup news, Eric Belanger is probable to get back in. Linus Omark, who's also been riding the pine as a healthy since his recall, may be looking at another seat in the press box tonight.
"Omark is one of the guys I have to look at," Renney said. "He's been a good soldier since he's been here. He needs to continue to be that because we do have games to play."
A CAREER MONTH
Since Christmas, Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin have mostly shared the duties in the Oilers' crease. But numerically speaking, the statistics aren't close. The sophomore has posted a 15-10-2 record, while the club's 39-year-old veteran -- a Stanley Cup winner in 2004 -- has collected only two wins, 13 regulation losses and an additional four in extra time or a shootout.
Dubnyk will get the start tonight. The 25-year-old is coming off the most productive month (March) of his NHL career: 6-2-1, a 1.95 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
"It's good," he said in his usual nonchalant tone. "Doesn't really matter which games you play, any hockey player that's at this level wants to go out every time there's a game and play hard and win. You can ask anyone in here. I've always said, any opportunity for me to get on the ice, see some shots and see some new situations is good for me. I'm looking forward to getting a couple more here before the end of the season to get better.
"Everybody says it, but you actually don't look at that stuff," Dubnyk added about his exceptional of-late numbers. "It's exciting going through a month when you know things are going well, but every game is different. There's a reason why the stats look like that and why the numbers are like that, so you need to continue to go out there and do it. I know why things are working for me and I want to continue to go out there and do it.
"That's growing at each level. I've been a starting goalie at each level. You have to get to that point -- you do it junior, then you start over in pro (in the ECHL) and then you get to the American League and then the NHL. It's tougher and tougher to get to each point.
"This is certainly the best I've ever felt and I don't see any reason for it to stop."
Dubnyk will certainly be a pivotal cog if the Oilers hope to capture a win. With lethal scorers Corey Perry, who's collected 50 goals and 98 points so far this season, Teemu Selanne and others, a strong commitment to the defensive side ought to present good things to the orange and blue.
"We had a real, strong game here in one that maybe we should have won and didn't," Renney said. "We had a slow start, a very good second period and a saw-off in the third. We have to make sure that we connect the dots and play three periods of hockey really well and really understand that you have to build a game. We want to make sure that our start shows that we're ready and we're engaged."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com with files from Tom Gazzola - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick