SUN Hockey Pool

Pouliot makes 'em take notice

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

He took the opportunity and ran with it.

On Saturday, Marc Pouliot moved up in the lineup due to the undisclosed injury to Sam Gagner.

It helped the Edmonton Oilers win the game.

"You never want anybody to get injured," Pouliot said. "I knew that I was going to get more ice time because we had a player missing. But it was a good opportunity to prove that I can play on the top three lines."

REPLACED GAGNER

Pouliot originally took Gagner's spot on the Oilers second line, but soon found himself playing with Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani where he set up two goals in a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames

"I had Penner out there on the power play," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "I wanted to come back with Ethan's line against (Jarome) Iginla, but Penner was tired so I put Pouliot out there and they had a heck of a shift, so we stayed with it a little bit."

Pouliot played just over 12 minutes in the contest and finished with a plus-two rating.

"I think that was one of my best games (as an Oiler)," said Pouliot. "We didn't have a good first period, the whole team had a bad first period, but we tried to focus on the second and third and I felt pretty good, and we played pretty well with Pi and Chopper (Pisani and Moreau). I've played with Pi before, last year we had some good chemistry and Chopper is the same kind of guy, a strong power forward with a great shot and a good release. We played well."

Moreau scored the Oilers first goal of the contest in the second period cutting the Flames lead in half.

The Oilers captain took a pass from Pouliot and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. Pisani then tied the game off a scramble taking a pass from Pouliot in front and putting it into basically an open net.

"When you have a couple of good shifts, you start to feel like you can make plays," Pouliot said.

"You get more confidence and I had that in the second (period) and I just want to build from there. I don't want to lose it, I want to keep working hard and we'll see what happens."

The Oilers have been waiting patiently for Pouliot to find his niche at the NHL level.

Since being selected 22nd overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Pouliot has struggled to stick with the Oilers.

But he had a fantastic training camp this year and is starting to produce dividends early in the season.

"He's capitalizing on his opportunities better," said Moreau. "He's made the best of the ice time he's been given this year where he probably didn't do that as much last year.

GRITTY PLAY

"He's making plays. He's also going into the tough areas of the ice. He's not staying in the perimeter, he's getting his nose dirty. That's why he's had some success. He's making plays, driving wide and going to the net."

Pouliot may have started on the line out of necessity, but it ended up being a turning point in the contest.

"We just played simple," Pouliot said. "We're pretty much the same type of players that go hard and skate hard. We read each other pretty well and we were able to get a lot of shots and score two goals. We just want to keep that going."


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