EDMONTON - If he had his way, Ryan Smyth would have preferred a different delivery method, but in the end, he got the message.
The Edmonton Oilers veteran has taken advantage of the elevated role he’s been put in since he was a healthy scratch on Feb. 12.
He played a season high 22 minutes in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, set up Teemu Hartikainen’s tying goal on the power play, and has one goal and three assists in the last three games.
The goal he scored against the Minnestoa Wild on Thursday was a vintage Smyth wraparound and a play that hadn’t been seen earlier this season.
“When you’re given opportunities, you have to take full advantage of them and I feel like I’m doing that,” he said. “Absolutely, it’s an eye-opener every time you’re a healthy scratch. You ask anybody. Nobody wants to sit out.
“You want to be on the ice with your teammates and I had to rebound. Yeah, it’s a kick start if that’s what you want to call it.”
Head coach Ralph Krueger sent Smyth out on the top line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordin Eberle to open Saturday’s game and was duly impressed with veteran’s work, including his time on the penalty-killing units.
Petrell, Horcoff join team on road trip
Lennart Petrell, who looked like he was a pencil stroke away from returning to the lineup, was retroactively moved to the injured reserve list on Saturday with a concussion.
It turns out the winger couldn’t pass the concussion test, which he has to do before he can return to the lineup.
Petrell took a puck in the head during a warm-up over a week ago.
“He has to take the test again ... and we’re going to get a copy in Finnish,” said Krueger.
When Petrell is back in the lineup, the Oilers will have to move either Magnus Paajarvi or Teemu Hartikainein to the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League because they can carry only 13 forwards with eight defencemen on the roster.
The upside, said Krueger, is that it will be easier to move players back and forth between the AHL and the NHL during the Western Conference road swing.
Meanwhile, captain Shawn Horcoff, who has been impatiently waiting for the broken knuckle on his right hand to heal, will also make the trip. There’s a chance he could be back in the lineup near the end of the journey.
Jones back in lineup
After weeks of waiting for his left eye to heal, Ryan Jones was finally set loose against theCoyotes. He logged 14 minutes, including 5:17 on the penalty-kill, and registered five shots on net, including a second-period attempt that defenceman Keith Yandle batted out of the air.
Struck by a puck on New Year’s Eve, Jones, who required surgery, was finally cleared for contact a week ago, leaving one last hurdle. He had to convince Krueger he was game ready.
“Ryan Jones was outstanding for having not played in so long. He was Ryan Jones,” Krueger said. “For him to have a first game like that is going to be excellent for his confidence and it gives us a scoring threat going into this road trip.”
Jones played with Ben Eager and Eric Belanger in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout victory.
“It was a hard game to jump back into, that’s for sure, but I just tried to keep it as simple as I could. I looked for the easy play,” he continued, “I didn’t try to do anything that was too fancy and it worked.”
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