Centre switch pays off

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Patrick O'Sullivan and Mike Comrie have been a steady tandem since the early days of training camp.

But O'Sullivan had a new partner riding shotgun last night as Sam Gagner moved up in the rotation to centre the Oilers' second line.

"I wanted to see if we could get a little better balance in our own end," said head coach Pat Quinn.

"Our low coverage depends a lot on your third man back in, which is usually your centre. We weren't strong enough around net in a lot of cases, so I thought we'd move Mike out to the wing, which is where he believes he signed to play."

Tthe move paid off as O'Sullivan and Comrie each scored a goal and Gagner chipped in with an assist in a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

"They're pretty similar players," O'Sullivan said.

"They're both smart with the puck and make little plays. I'm pretty familiar with Gags, we played together last year. We have some pretty good chemistry."

With his assist last night, hitting Comrie with a long pass up the middle, Gagner now has three points in four games.

After a quiet preseason, the native of London, Ont., is starting to round into form.

"I think we have a lot of guys that can play centre," O'Sullivan said.

"I guess they're trying to figure out who is going to be our centreman for that line. Mike is able to play the wing and Gags is a little more comfortable at centre, which is his natural position."

O'Sullivan has also played well so far this season, but until last night had been unable to find the net.

In the second period, he gave the Oilers a 3-0 lead, getting to a loose puck on a turnover created by Ryan Stone and firing a shot past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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