Penner gets angry

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:26 AM ET

He didn't get a goal, didn't get a point and only played five minutes Thursday against Atlanta, but in that time Dustin Penner impressed a few critics.

Back in the lineup after his second press box banishment of the season, Penner responded with considerably more purpose in his return. He played hard around the net, fought for position, created chances and when Garnet Exelby threw a late, blind-side hit on Ales Hemsky, Penner dropped the gloves and threw the 215-pound Thrasher around like he was shaking dust out of an old coat.

It earned him a loud ovation from the crowd at Rexall Place, where all they ever ask for is a hard day's work. Unfortunately for Penner it also earned him an instigating penalty - a laughably bad call by referees Marc Joannette and Chris Rooney - and an early end to his evening.

By the time he'd served his time - two, five and 10 minutes - it was midway through the third period of a tie game and coach Craig MacTavish figured he was too cold to go back in. It was good while it lasted, he just wishes it would have lasted a little longer.

"I had five minutes of actual ice time and 19 minutes in penalties," Penner said at Edmonton's optional practice yesterday at Millenium Place.

"I was hoping maybe I had the game winner on my stick after (the penalties expired), sometimes that's how it works out, you get in a fight like that and good things happen. But the team was playing well and we had three lines rolling.

"But I like the way our line played early on, we had a few chances, it was something we can build on."

It was Penner's second scrap of the season and the second time the other guy wound up kissing ice. He floored Landon Wilson of the Stars in January.

It's not something he's well-versed in, having come up through the college ranks, but maybe he doesn't know his own strength.

"It was probably like a Will Farrell Old School Syndrome where I blacked out," he joked. "It's interesting when you get in those situations.

"I fought maybe seven or eight times in the minors in my first year. You play high school hockey and college hockey, you don't play junior, it's not ingrained in you, but with each one it gets easier."

Too bad it had to spell the end of a decent game.

"That was definitely the wrong call," said Penner. "I went up to him after a pretty delayed hit, one to the head ... and asked him to go. He dropped his gloves first, and then I dropped mine and (a referee) said 'You're out of here.' I thought he was an umpire in baseball. I had no idea I was out for that long."

Shooting blanks

For a team that was so good in shootouts last season, you'd think the Oilers would be a little more careful in overtime. But in three straight OT losses they were done before their shooters ever had a chance.

"We have to be a little more patient in overtime," said Ethan Moreau. "We have a good shootout team, so we can't make mistakes in overtime, just allow ourselves an opportunity to win."

"We should be better. We have a skilled team that should excel in four on four, so we have to improve on that. We're made for that type of game. We're not a physical team, we're not a big team. if we get four on four opportunities or shootout opportunities that's where we have to excel."

Kovalchuk day-to-day

Atlanta Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk will not play today at Buffalo after aggravating an upper-body injury in the first period against Edmonton Thursday.

Kovalchuk, who leads Atlanta in scoring with 36 goals and 42 assists, played just 46 seconds before leaving the contest.

"Ilya Kovalchuk aggravated a lingering upper body injury that he has skated with in recent games," GM Don Waddell said in a statement. "It's not serious but he is returning to Atlanta for rest and will be re-evaluated on Monday before determining his status" for Monday's home game against Washington.

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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