SUN Hockey Pool

Souray returns to lineup

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

The shoulder's fine.

So is the booming slapshot from the point.

Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray laid to rest any doubts about his surgically repaired left shoulder with a first-star performance against the Vancouver Canucks last night at Rexall Place.

Souray scored a goal, added an assist and blew up Canucks forward Jeff Cowan with a devastating open-ice hit in a 4-3 shootout loss. He also hit the crossbar and came close to scoring a short-handed goal.

"There is no problem with the shoulder," Souray said.

"Injuries happen. I'm just going to let the play dictate itself. It's going to get old answering the same question every game; How's the shoulder, how's the shoulder?"

Last season Souray, 32, signed a five-year $32.4-million free agent contract with the Oilers. However, he was injured early into the campaign and played just 26 games. He had three goals and seven assists, before being forced to sit out the rest of the season.

Last night, partnered with Steve Staios on the Oilers' top defensive pairing, Souray opened the scoring, stepping into a shot from the point that Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider heard go in off the post and past him, but did not see.

He was probably lucky the shot didn't hit him.

"(Sheldon) played unreal," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "I think he's really ready to go. You can see that pretty early in training camp.

"As a coach, sometimes you forget how much that wears on a players, those injuries.

"You just feel like an outsider and he's probably tired of answering the same question about the injury. He's just going to just play through that and let it speak for itself."

Souray led the way with seven shots last night. He also had a game-high four hits.

"It was good to get out there," Souray said. "A lot of guys were excited to get out there because we haven't played in a while. It was good that Mac put us out there early rather than making us sit, think about it and just watch a hockey game.

"We watched a lot last year, so it was good to get out there quicker."

Souray nearly collected his second of the period, as he stepped into another shot, but he rang it off the crossbar.

Then later in the frame, after Cowan tied the game with a tap in, winger Erik Cole scored his first as an Oiler, gathering a rebound in front, off another Souray bullet.

Mattias Ohlund and Dan Gendur added tallies for Vancouver, while Sam Gagner's beautiful breakaway goal, off a feed from Staios, rounded out the scoring.

Kyle Wellwood and Jason Krog converted shootout chances for Vancouver, while just Gagner managed to score for the Oilers.


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