OTTAWA -- Days after Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish publically denounced his goaltending, Devan Dubnyk answered the criticism.
Dubnyk, the top man on a depth chart of what MacTavish tabbed the organization's "positional weakness", stopped 35 shots to lead the Oilers to a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.
While he stopped 37 shots in a loss on Long Island to the New York Islanders on Thursday, this was Dubnyk's first win in six decisions and it improved Edmonton's record to 2-6-1.
"It wasn't a little bit of Devan, it was a lot of Devan, he was excellent again and I thought he won us a hockey game," said Oilers' coach Dallas Eakins. "We weren't able to sustain a lot of offence in their zone, they seemed to be coming at us in waves and even though we kept a lot of their shots to the outside, when we needed him to make that big save, boy did he stand up and stand tall for us.
"Devan was excellent and that's really encouraging for our team. If you can get goaltending like that you're going to win a lot of hockey games."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins paced the Oilers' attack with two goals, including one into an empty net with Senators goalie Robin Lehner on the bench in favor of an extra attacker. Jordan Eberle had the other Edmonton goal, while Chris Neil replied for the Senators.
The news wasn't all good for the Oilers, who lost top left winger Taylor Hall with an apparent leg injury in the second period.
"I know it's his knee and I don't know the severity of it," said Eakins. "Our doctors will look at it and let us know. I will say that when a guy doesn't come back in the game it's usually something that's going to be more than a day or two but I have no idea right now."
Lehner made 19 saves in his second start for the Senators (3-3-3).
"I thought it was a solid 60 minutes by our team, probably the best full game we've played to this point," said Senators' coach Paul MacLean. "In the first we just gave them a couple of opportunities, played it a little casually, and they made us pay.
"We played a full game but we just need to play better."
Goals by Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins, each with their third of the season, stood up until Neil scored his first off a scramble with 5:48 left in the final frame.
It was the 34th shot of the game for the Senators.
"We said in between periods it wasn't going to be a pretty one that goes in," said Neil. "That's a prime example of a dirty goal, going to the net and you get rewarded. We just didn't do enough of that."
Senators captain Jason Spezza agreed.
"I think we had more quality (chances) than they had quality (chances) and that hasn't been the case in the first eight games," he said. "We got a lot of pucks on net, we were in their end for long periods of time. We just didn't find a way to score goals."
That was partly because they missed the net 19 times, but mostly because Dubnyk was there when they did locate the target.
"It feels really good to do it for these guys in here," said Dubnyk. "When everybody starts talking about you can't do it or they need somebody else, it's really easy to start doubting yourself and go out and try and do something different. The last couple of games I talked to Dallas and just went out there and tried to be myself. I didn't need to go out there and try to be anything I'm not, or play any differently because so and so says I'm no good.
"I know I can do the job. I just have to go out there and be myself. It was fun to go out there and get back to that."
NOTES: Oilers D Denis Grebeshkov, a former first-rounder, made his season debut. He missed the first eight games with a groin injury. Grebeshkov bumped to the press box D Nick Schultz, who is one of only two Edmonton blue-liners not to have a negative plus-minus rating. ... The Senators recalled C Derek Grant from Binghamton and immediately inserted him into the lineup. The surprise wasn't that Grant played against the Oilers but that he replaced 20-year-old C Jean-Gabriel Pageau and not LW Matt Kassian. The only shortcoming in Pageau's game has been his struggles in the face-off circles. ... For the first time in his seven games this season, Oilers RW Nail Yakupov was switched to the left wing. He responded by picking up his first point when he assisted on C Ryan-Nugent Hopkins' goal in the opening period. ... Senators LW Clarke MacArthur entered the game on the longest scoring drought to start a season in his eight-year career. It wasn't for lack of trying. Signed in the offseason to fill the second line job left vacant by the departure of Daniel Alfredsson, MacArthur was tied for second in shots on the team.