When Dustin Penner gets hot he can be a handful, and the much-maligned winger is turning it up a few degrees in the stretch.
With two goals Friday night in Anaheim, he now has seven points in six games, leads the team in plus-minus and sits tied for second in goals by a forward.
"He seems to be really comfortable in the role that he's in right now and getting on the power play helps," said Shawn Horcoff, who called Penner a force down low, where both his goals came against the Ducks. "He's really good in front."
In the big games down the stretch, they want the big winger taking a more central role, given that he has more playoff experience than virtually anyone in the room.
"He's won a Stanley Cup," said Horcoff. "We talked to him about being a lot more vocal. He's got experience. He needs to realize that. We want him to step up a little more and be more of a leader and he's starting to do that and I think it's helped his game. He's more accountable and you can see it in his play."
Penner seems more comfortable with linemates who grind it out around the crease than he does with those who dangle. He was effective with Ethan Moreau and Kyle Brodziak and looked good again with Shawn Horcoff and Patrick O'Sullivan.
"It's going well," he said. "If the team plays well so do the individuals. I've been fortunate to play with like-minded players, players who cycle down low. I was the beneficiary of a lot of good passes."
Much to the chagrin of Ducks fans, who booed their former winger lustily after every goal.
"That was a feel-good game for him," said MacTavish. "Doing that against Anaheim."
FOURSCORE: THE REUNITED FOURTH LINE OF ZACK STORTINI, J.F. JACQUES AND BRODZIAK HAD A BIG IMPACT IN ANAHEIM.
Stortini and Jacques each fought George Parros in the first period and Jacques landed a crushing hit behind the net that set up the giveaway that set up Brodziak's game winner in the third.
"It's a good message, one that should resonate with a lot of players, to do the most with the opportunity you get," said MacTavish. "You always want more opportunity and more ice time, more of this and more of that. It's a case of getting the most out of what you have.
"I thought they did that last game. They knew what they needed to bring and what they could bring and they did it."
It's something the Oilers had been missing on nights like the loss in Phoenix, where they could have used someone or something to change the negative momentum.
"We need some pop in our lineup. Based on the way that they played, they made a pretty strong case for themselves (tonight against Minny)," said MacTavish.