Pitkanen gets up to speed in return

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

Joni Pitkanen was back in the Oilers lineup last night. And head coach Craig MacTavish used the Finnish D-man as much as possible.

"I thought he looked fine," said MacTavish. "He's just an unbelievable skater. There are some aspects of his game that are just absolutely exceptional and I thought he defended OK."

Pitkanen, 24, had not been in the Oilers lineup since Oct. 20 due to a knee injury. Yesterday he played more than 20 minutes.

"It was a pretty tough game," Pitkanen said. "Everything was happening so fast. The first period was pretty tough, but after that I started to feel OK. My skating was better and I started to get used to it."

Pitkanen was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers this summer in a trade that sent Joffrey Lupul and Jason Smith the other way. In eight games prior to his injury, the Oulu, Finland, native had a goal and an assist.

"The knee was OK, sometimes I felt it a little bit," he said. "But as the game went on, I started to feel better."

Pitkanen expects to be back in the lineup for good now.

He's a big part of the Oilers power-play, which scored another goal last night in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. This came two nights after netting three man advantage tallies against Vancouver.

"We moved the puck pretty good the last game as well," said MacTavish. "They brought a lot of pressure and if you can handle the pressure you're going to get a lot of good chances. But I don't that we got a lot of good looks.

"He's an element out there; he can transport the puck up the ice in a hurry."


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