SUN Hockey Pool

'Beef in the lineup'

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

They may all be fourth-liners, but actually using them on a unit together seemed inconceivable.

Yet Jason Strudwick, Zack Stortini and Steve MacIntyre rolled out as one on a couple of occasions last night against the San Jose Sharks.

With all of them being wingers, Stortini took the spot in the middle until a gruesome-looking injury in the third period took him out of the contest.

'PLAY DOWN LOW'

"To be honest, a centre is an important part of a line, but Storts (Stortini) can play down low and I'm able to play down low," Strudwick said. "You obviously don't expect it, but we were out there for a reason."

Already down in the contest, Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish sent the trio over the boards in an effort to spark his hockey team.

Just seeing all three of them on the ice together had the crowd at Rexall Place buzzing.

"Zack was our centreman," said MacIntyre. "There was definitely a lot of beef on that line. I think we just need to try and set a tone, crash and bang.

"We needed a spark and we needed some life and I think that's why MacT put us out there, to kind of get that going for us."

MacIntyre was activated earlier in the day and drew into the lineup in favour of Gilbert Brule and Liam Reddox.

The six-foot-five, 250-pound winger out of Brock, Sask., had been on injured reserved since early November with a broken orbital bone, courtesy of Pittsburg Penguins enforcer Eric Godard.

He started the game in his usual spot on the wing on the Oilers' fourth line beside Kyle Brodziak and Strudwick.

Stortini started on the third line with Marc Pouliot and Ethan Moreau.

"They only played a couple of shifts together in the game," said MacTavish. "You go through a lot of line combinations when you have a big hole on the right side on your first line (Ales Hemsky). I just wanted to put some beef in the lineup and it didn't work out very well."

In the third, the trio jumped over the boards to the surprise and delight of the crowd. They did well enough to warrant another shift together and came out again later in the frame.

However, this time around, MacIntyre failed to get across centre before dumping the puck in the zone, which resulted in an icing. Without a regular centre on the ice, Stortini took the draw against Sharks star Joe Thornton.

Stortini managed to win the draw, although the Sharks' top line gained control of the puck and had the Oilers fourth line pinned in their own end.

"In the back of your head you're thinking 'Holy smokes, you're out there against Joe Thornton,' but at the same time, you have to dig down, you're a professional, and you have to play against whoever they send out there," MacIntyre said.

Later in the period, Stortini's night came to an end after following a strong shift, laying out Devin Setoguchi in the Oilers zone.

SQUARING UP

Looking for retribution, Patrick Marleau first went after Stortini, but the Oilers winger ended up squaring up with Sharks winger Brad Staubitz.

The two got tangled up and Stortini's left leg twisted up awkwardly under Staubitz as the two fell to the ice.

Stortini was wearing a leg brace and was on crutches on his way to the hospital.

"I saw him leaving for the hospital and he was in a lot of pain," MacTavish said. "We all saw the replay and it looked Joe Theisman-like. That he was even on his feet was an accomplishment."


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