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Oilers happy to have Hemsky back vs. Sabres

by Robin Brownlee /
EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers will get a much-needed boost against the Buffalo Sabres at Rexall Place on Tuesday night when high-scoring winger Ales Hemsky returns to the lineup after a 10-game absence due to a strained groin.

"I'm ready for a game," Hemsky said. "I'm not a guy who likes to sit around and watch the games. I want to play, so it's exciting to be back."

Hemsky, 27, out since Dec. 1, should add some pop to an Edmonton attack that's managed just 89 goals in 34 games, which ranks 13th in the Western Conference. Hemsky has scored 7 goals and 18 points in the 21 games he's played this season.

"It's always hard to watch the games and not play," Hemsky said. "You always want to help the team some way. You always want to be the guy. That's why you play hockey, you know?"

Hemsky will make his return playing right wing on a line with Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner and will take his spot on the first unit of Edmonton's power play.

"He brings instant offence," Cogliano said. "He brings an element where he can score at any time, make the big play. In the last few games, where we've been close, a guy like Hemmer probably would have scored in one or two of those games."

Road kill: With a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday, the Sabres have now lost seven of their last eight road games (1-5-2) and are 6-8-3 on the road.

Around the rink: The Oilers went 4-4-2 in the 10 games Hemsky missed. … Buffalo will play its second game without first-line center and leading scorer Derek Roy (10-25-35), who will have surgery to repair a torn quadriceps tendon and will miss the rest of the season. … The Oilers recalled defenseman Jeff Petry from the Oklahoma City Barons on Monday and the former Michigan State product will make his NHL debut against the Sabres in a pairing with Ryan Whitney. Petry was recalled because there was some doubt Tom Gilbert (knee) would play, but Gilbert will dress for his 289th straight game tonight. … The Oilers have just one win in their last six games (1-4-1) and are 12-16-6 for 30 points after 34 games, which leaves them four points off their total of 34 points after 34 games last season (15-15-4).
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