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Versteeg's return a big help
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 2/3/2009 12:01 AM

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EDMONTON, Alberta - Having Kris Versteeg back in the lineup Saturday at San Jose turned out to be an important factor in the Blackhawks' 4-2 victory.

The rookie, who had missed two games with a finger injury, scored a key short-handed goal and had an assist.

"I'm just glad I could come back and help us win," Versteeg said.

The short-handed goal came in the second period and snapped a 1-1 tie.

"It was a great play by (Dave) Bolland)," said Versteeg, who banged home Bolland's rebound. "He battled all the way to the net and somehow got it to the net."

Versteeg played center for the second time this season and held his own despite losing 7 of 8 faceoffs.

With Versteeg back and healthy, Pascal Pelletier was returned to Rockford on Monday. He was with the Hawks all week but didn't appear in a game.

Oil slicks: One NHL coach was fired Monday, but it wasn't Edmonton's Craig MacTavish.

While Craig Hartsburg was getting bounced in Ottawa after just 48 games, MacTavish actually received a vote of confidence from Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini.

MacTavish did make some news Monday by bag-skating Dustin Penner, Kyle Brodziak and Marc Poulet after practice.

Penner has been a huge disappointment and lately has been named in numerous trade rumors, the biggest linking the Oilers with Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

"He's lost his game," MacTavish said of Penner.

The Oilers are expected to have Sam Gagner back in the lineup against the Hawks following an undisclosed injury.

Tip-ins: The Hawks are 3-for-8 on the power play in the first three games of the road trip. - Add the Montreal Canadiens to the list of teams looking for a center now that Robert Lang has been lost indefinitely, likely for the rest of the season, following surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon. - Andrew Ladd has gone 12 games without a goal, while Dustin Byfuglien hasn't scored in eight games.