The first time Edmonton Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk saw the San Jose Sharks, they blasted him for six first-period goals.
Thursday night he forced the unbeaten Sharks into overtime and then the shootout with the scored tied 2-2. San Jose prevailed, but not before gaining a healthy appreciation for Dubnyk’s potential.
Other organizations are noticing him too. “Dubnyk’s always been big but seems quieter in the net, letting the play come to him now,” said one NHL pro scout told the Edmonton Journal.
Aside from his one disastrous game, Dubnyk has stopped 188 of 199 shots. This continued his steady trend of professional improvement.
His appearances have increased each year while his goals-against average has gone down. During his final 13 starts last season, he posted a 2.04 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
Dubnyk got ready for the lockout-shortened season by playing for Canada in the Spengler Cup Tournament. With Nikolai Khabibulin injured to start the season, he shouldered a big workload for the Oilers.
Although Khabibulin is healthy, Devan will get the majority of the work if he keeps playing like this. Coach Ralph Krueger gave him starts on back-to-back nights and didn’t yank him after San Jose scored a couple of quick goals against him.
“The way Devan reacted to the deficit was special,” Krueger told reporters Thursday. “It begins with your goalie . . . your team wants to see how your goalie reacts. Does your goalie give his team a chance to come back in a hockey game? That’s a sign of a top goalie in the National Hockey League, knowing his players will take more risks, play more offence. He was outstanding in the second half of the game.”