SUN Hockey Pool

Is this Hartford again?

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

It was an opportunity Geoff Sanderson made the most of.

Looking for a spark in an anemic power play last week against the Vancouver Canucks, the Edmonton Oilers sent the veteran winger over the boards on their first man advantage.

Sanderson promptly went on to set up Tom Gilbert for the first of three powerplay goals on the night.

"When you get an opportunity like that you have to make something happen," Sanderson said. "I was fortunate to get a bounce and we got a goal."

It was the first time Sanderson had been used on the power play this season. In the three games since then, he's been on the second unit.

"We struggled so badly and then we put him out there and they scored instantly, so we kept him there," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Thankfully a guy like Sandy has stepped up, because some of the guys that we're counting on to score are dry and they're not getting anything done.

"He probably played more (Saturday) than he played in a long time. He's one of the reasons we won (Saturday) because he was good."

After going through a 17-game stretch where Sanderson had just one point, the Hay River, N.W.T., native has four points in his last four games. In Saturday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, Sanderson picked up a pair of assists.

"My confidence is as high as it's been all year," Sanderson said. "Getting some powerplay opportunities really got me thinking about offence and trying to make plays."

As a former sniper in the league, Sanderson is no stranger to offence. Twice in his early days with the Hartford Whalers, Sanderson broke the 40-goal plateau. He's scored at least 30 goals six times in his 17-year career and two seasons ago, he netted 25 goals with Phoenix.

Yet with the Oilers, Sanderson's role has changed. He's playing on the fourth line with Kyle Brodziak and Marty Reasoner. And instead of being a finisher, is now more of a setup man, evident by the assist on the Oilers' first goal Saturday.

"I don't think I would have been able to get a shot off on the play," Sanderson said.

"The puck was on my backhand and if I had gone over to my forehand, the defenceman would have probably got a stick on the puck. So I just pulled it up and I knew Greby (Denis Grebeshkov) was jumping up as he always does and he was open in the middle of the ice and he just converted a great play."

Grebeshkov took Sanderson's pass, skated around goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who had come out to challenge, and found Ales Hemsky in front of the net for the easy tap in to tie the game.

In the third, Sanderson was in on the go-ahead marker, finding Brodziak, who slid a pass to Reasoner in front.

"Sandy is out-playing a lot of guys on the left side, which is something that we didn't anticipate would happen," MacTavish said. "It's happening for a couple of reasons, Sandy is playing well and the other guys aren't being that productive."


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