SUN Hockey Pool

Omark out to impress

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:51 PM ET

PITTSBURGH — Linus Omark knew he was being closely watched, which may have accounted for his inspired play on Sunday.

The Edmonton Oilers rookie forward was being scouted by Swedish national team head coach Par Martz and assistant Johan Garpenlov, who are in charge of putting together the country's entry into the upcoming world championship tournament.

"I knew they were here," said Omark. "I talked to them before the game. This is the first time they've seen me play live this year. I liked that they were here, I like to play under pressure."

Omark was one of Edmonton's best forwards in a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He created a scoring opportunity in the first period, flipping the puck over the stick of Penguins defenceman Deryk Engelland and then firing a shot that rattled off the goal post.

In the second period, Omark fed a perfect pass to Gilbert Brule, who was robbed by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Omark then set up countryman Magnus Paajarvi from behind the net for another good scoring opportunity in the final frame.

"I thought he played really well," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney.

"I thought he handled the puck well, he had confidence with it, he tried to make things happen and he found people. It was a good day for him.

"Whether or not they're interested in him beyond our regular season remains to be seen. But he had one of the better games he's had in a while."

Selected by the Oilers in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, Omark, 24, went into Sunday's game with three goals and 15 assists on the season.

With Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner out of the lineup, he's one of the team's most talented forwards at the moment.

"I was a little bit looser (Sunday), even though the puck is not going my way right now," Omark said.

"Unfortunately, that's how it's going for me ... the puck doesn't want to go in. Sometimes you just need to get an easy goal. I think it'll come if I work hard."

Omark has represented Sweden in the past, suiting up for both the senior and junior world championships.

With the Oilers not making the playoffs this season, he is a strong candidate to play with his national team again.

"I played with them for three years in a row now," Omark said.

"It's an honour to play for Sweden, but we'll see. I'm not sure what kind of team we'll have. I talked to (the coaches) after the game and they're not sure what kind of team we'll have either."

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


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