Oilers top line together

Edmonton Oilers' Petr Sykora (left) and Ales Hemsky celebrate a goal earlier this season. The...

Edmonton Oilers' Petr Sykora (left) and Ales Hemsky celebrate a goal earlier this season. The Oilers reunited Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky on New Year's Eve for the first time since last season. (Edmonton Sun File/Darryl Dyck)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

A year ago they were the Edmonton Oilers' top unit.

Now they're together again as Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky were reunited Sunday night in Calgary.

The trio will play together tonight when the Oilers host the Florida Panthers.

"I thought they showed some jump (Sunday) night," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"You could see it in Horc, and to a certain degree in Ryan and Hemmer, that they were anxious to get things going. They traded the puck pretty well and played pretty well in the stretch they were together."

The trio was the Oilers' most potent unit last season with Hemsky and Horcoff both having career years. Hemsky and Horcoff finished first and second respectively in team scoring, while Smyth led the team with 36 goals.

This year, however, the line was broken up with the acquisition of Petr Sykora.

'GOOD COMBINATION'

The Oilers have been playing the former 35-goal scorer and Hemsky together for most of the season.

"Sykora has been so good there for the better part of the year that it's been a pretty good combination with the two," MacTavish said. "I just think at this point getting back to a line that was successful for us last year in what was a real good season isn't a bad thing to try.

"We can always go back to Petr on that line and work some combinations. At the same time we have to try and find some five-on-five offence as well outside of the power play."

Hemsky and Smyth have both played well since returning from injuries.

Hemsky has a goal and three assists in seven games since returning from a shoulder injury, while Smyth has three goals in three games coming back from a broken thumb.

Horcoff, who has struggled offensively this year, also has five points in his last six games.

"We had a pretty good year last year, they're both really good players and they're both skilled guys," Hemsky said.

"We feel we can do something. Smytty is really hot right now and he's scoring goals.

"I think Horc is working hard and he's not playing bad. He's just got to get a couple of more bounces and some confidence and it's going to turn around for him."

OFF THE PACE

Despite his recent form, Horcoff is still well off his scoring pace of last year where he netted 22 goals and 51 assists. Heading into tonight's contest, Horcoff has five goals and 15 assists.

"At the start of the year his offensive game wasn't where it is now or where it has been, but his defensive game was good," MacTavish said.

"Then the offence started to come and his defensive game started to slip. It's a difficult game and you have to have an eye on all of it, and hopefully this is a situation that will get Horc going on both sides of the puck, and I saw lots of that (Sunday)."


Videos

Photos