SUN Hockey Pool

Get your motor

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:09 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- If the RPM Line doesn't get your motor running, you haven't been paying attention.

Just when it seemed the Edmonton Oilers might stall Thursday in one of those games that can swing a season, Marty Reasoner, Fernando Pisani and Ethan Moreau imposed their will and turned a 3-1 deficit against the Montreal Canadiens into a 5-3 win.

So, instead of opening a crucial four-game stretch against the Vancouver Canucks on a three-game losing streak, the Oilers file into the confines of General Motors Place tonight revved up and ready to roll.

Pedal to the metal, when it's needed most.

"They've had chemistry in the past and they work well off one another," said Craig MacTavish, who first put the line together during the 2002-03 season after Pisani was summoned from Hamilton.

"They know they're going to have success and they're continually trying to prove to me to keep them together. A game like (Thursday) was a perfect opportunity. They delivered the goods as they normally do."

In a game the Oilers absolutely had to win, the unassuming Pisani scored twice - the 3-3 goal and an empty-netter to close the deal. Pisani has five goals in his last five games.

Reasoner, who not long ago looked like he might be done after pulverizing his knee in a fall into the boards in Toronto, chipped in a pair of assists and showed again he's anything but over.

A GAP-TOOTHED HANDFUL

Then, there's Moreau, who is a gap-toothed handful every night, but has been playing this season like everybody in a different coloured jersey owes him money. He's got some Mark Messier in his game right now.

After scoring two shorthanded goals in a 3-2 win in Philadelphia four games ago, Moreau blew the winner past Jose Theodore with 1:23 to play. With two games against the Canucks and dates with Calgary and Los Angeles before Christmas, you want him on your side.

"A lot of that is confidence," Reasoner said. "I think right now he feels like there isn't any puck he can't get to. It just seems like he's playing on a different level. It's fun to watch."

While the Oilers have issues - their three-man goaltending rotation remains unsettled, the power play is all over the place, Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky are in a lull and MacTavish doesn't have a third defensive pairing he can count on consistently - the RPM Line has been money.

Reasoner, Pisani and Moreau combined for seven points against the Habs and have 12 points in their last four games, a stretch in which the Oilers have scored 11 goals.

They've got it done five-on-five - they're a cumulative plus-10 in those four games. They've done it shorthanded - Moreau's shorties against the Flyers tied a franchise record. Thursday, they overcame the Habs when Moreau teed-up a rocket at the end of a power play.

You want fancy? These aren't your guys. Their timely contributions, led by Moreau, have been the product of good old-fashioned sweat and dogged determination.

'WE KNOW OUR STRENGHTS'

"The biggest thing is we know our strengths," surmises Reasoner. "We try to capitalize on them as much as possible.

"We're not the kind of line that's out there throwing around those no-look passes or beating guys one-on-one, but we feel that, collectively, we can anticipate what each guy is going to do. We're quick to react.

"With Ethan and Fernando, you know what you're going to get. You're going to get hard work and solid plays."

How many third-line players have their names circled in opposing dressing rooms? You can bet Reasoner, Pisani and Moreau have the attention of the Canucks to kick off this pivotal four-game stretch.

"It's nice to be going in there in a situation where we have some breathing room," MacTavish said. "We're not going to be as tight as we would have been had we lost that game (Thursday). Now we're looking at this as a great opportunity to narrow the gap quickly and try to reel in one of the top two teams in the Western Conference ... it's an opportunity for everybody to have a Merry Christmas."


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