BUFFALO - It had been over nine years since Josh Green wore an Edmonton Oilers jersey.
Yet he was back donning the oil drop on Tuesday, having been called up from Oklahoma City earlier in the day.
Green, 34, filled a roster spot in the place of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who injured his shoulder Monday night in Colorado.
“It’s exciting to be back, I got the call late last night and flew in this morning,” Green said. “I certainly have some familiarity with this organization I have a lot of fond memories from my first time around and it’s good to be back now again.”
Originally selected in the second round — 30th overall — of the 1996 NHL Entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings, Green spent three years in the Oilers organization before being traded to the New York Rangers early in the 2002-2003 campaign.
This summer, the Oilers signed Green as a free agent to provide depth and experience in Oklahoma City.
“I signed with Edmonton because I thought I would start the season with Oklahoma City and it’s a great place to play,” Green said. “It’s good weather and it’s a great place for the family. And the chance to play in the NHL certainly weighed into my decision as well.”
Green has had an up-and-down season with the Barons, with seven goals and 10 assists in 19 games.
He served a four-game suspension earlier this year and also missed a number of games with a concussion after colliding with an official.
“I got suspended for a head shot. It was pretty legit,” Green said. “It was kind of a reaction thing. I got rubbed out along the boards, I didn’t have the puck and I just got my wires crossed. It was a bad decision on my part. But certainly for all the stuff that’s going on I can understand why I got suspended.”
Tuesday night Green played over 11 minutes, had one shot, won five of eight face offs and finished with a minus-four rating.
Ales Hemsky took some heat for slowing up on an icing call Monday, getting beat to the puck and giving the Chicago Blackhawks one last shot at tying the game.
It appeared as though Hemsky himself was not happy with the playing coming out in inspired form Tuesday.
The Oilers winger snapped a nine-game scoreless drought by setting up a pair of assists against the Sabres. Hemsky laid a pass out for Taylor Hall on the first Oilers goal, then picked up a second assist on Sam Gagner’s marker. Hemsky had plenty of jump in the contest, showing flashes of his old self.
“I thought Ales played very well,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “I thought he was locked in and really tried to make a difference right from the get-go to his last shift.”
Ladislav Smid was not pleased with Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta, who tried to take his head off in the second period. Kaleta launched himself at the Oilers defenceman and was assessed a charging minor for it.
Kaleta caught Smid on the top of the shoulder pad and came precariously close to delivering an elbow to his head.
Smid did not show any immediate ill effects from the hit, and finished the game.
“When I looked out of the corner, I didn’t see him, I guess he was still in the neutral zone,” Smid said. “I took three or four steps with the puck, I was trying to get it off the boards and then he hit me. It was the right call, I’m just glad he didn’t hit me in the head. He hit me in the shoulder pad. If he hit me in the head, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.”
FOUR IS ENOUGH
Teemu Hartikainen was having trouble standing after Tuesday’s game, having played four games on four consecutive nights.
The winger had played back-to-back games in Oklahoma City before being called up to play back-to-back games with the Oilers.
“I was tired,” Hartikainen said. “After 10 to 15 seconds it started to burn. It was a tough game.”
Hartikainen played on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Josh Green, who had been called up Tuesday morning from Oklahoma City.
The pair finished a combined minus-seven on the night as Hartikainen was on for three of the Sabres goals, while Green was on for all four.
Horcoff also finished minus-three on the night. The Oilers captain was hampered by a shoulder problem and was unable to take face-offs.
“I felt my legs burning throughout the whole game,” Hartikainen said. “It was tough. I know one goal was my fault because I couldn’t keep track of my defenceman. It’s hard, unfortunately sometimes that happens.”