COLUMBUS -- It took four games and nine days to find his way out of the fog, but Michael Peca's return from a mild concussion couldn't come at a better time for the Edmonton Oilers.
Out of action since being clocked by Rick Nash in a 5-1 win over Columbus at Rexall Place on Nov. 1, Peca yesterday declared himself ready to go in a rematch against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena tonight.
With the Oilers having lost two straight games going into the fifth stop on a seven-game road swing, they can certainly use Peca's services, and those of Marty Reasoner, who is also expected to return.
"I'm going to be playing, I think. It's the coach's decision," smiled Peca, who won't have to twist Craig MacTavish's arm to get the green light.
Peca, 31, was knocked goofy by Nash when he was caught watching his own dump-in attempt. The hit by Nash busted some of Peca's dental work and produced the second concussion of his NHL career.
After a few days to rest and skate in Edmonton, Peca rejoined the Oilers in Dallas. He took the pre-game skate before a 4-0 loss to the Stars and again before Tuesday's 3-2 loss in Nashville.
"I feel good," Peca said. "The idea was to get a couple of good practices in and morning skates don't quite qualify as good practices as far as doing things that are game-like.
"It was good to skate the last couple of days on a line and do drills and forecheck and those things. I feel sharp and ready to go."
Expect Peca to play between Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani tonight. Peca will make his return wearing a visor, a piece of equipment he intends to make permanent.
"It was kind of a reminder," Peca said of the concussion. "I wore one (visor) all of last year with the intention of wearing one coming into this year. I wore one at the Olympic camp.
"When I came into training camp (in Edmonton), I changed helmets and the visor didn't fit properly. It kind of distorted my peripheral vision and I just kind of got lazy about putting it back on."
REASONER READY, TOO
Reasoner, out for the last three games with a badly swollen right hand after being hit by a shot in Detroit, skated on a line between Todd Harvey and Georges Laraque yesterday. He looks ready to go tonight.
With Peca and Reasoner ready to step back in, rookie Kyle Brodziak has been returned to Des Moines of the AHL.
Nash, who made his return to the Columbus line-up from a sprained ankle in the game he pasted Peca, won't be in the mix. The big winger is on the shelf for at least three weeks with a sprained knee.
AROUND THE RINK ... Radek Dvorak sat out yesterday's skate with a sore left hand but will play ... Cory Cross (sprained knee) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (broken finger) won't dress ... Laraque has a badly swollen thumb on his left hand, courtesy of the beating he gave Darcy Hordichuk in Nashville, and was in considerable discomfort but skated yesterday.