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Smyth lands on IR with broken thumb, out indefinitely

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have had
trouble finding the back of the net over the last week. Now
they will have to press on without their leading scorer.

The Oilers on Sunday placed left wing Ryan Smyth on injured
reserve with a fractured right thumb.

Smyth, who has 16 goals and six assists in 23 games this season,
suffered the injury in the first period of Saturday's 4-0 loss
to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The veteran left wing crashed
into the boards chasing a loose puck about five minutes into the
contest.

Afterwards, Smyth was not confident about the prognosis.

"We were going in there pretty good," he said. "But it was a
freak thing and you know I'm very fortunate and lucky that it
hadn't displaced because it could be a lot longer, so I'm lucky.
There is no time frame right now. It's out indefinitely."

Defenseman Steve Staios summarized Smyth's importance to the
Oilers, who have lost three straight by a combined score of
14-5.

"Everybody knows what Smytty brings to our team," Staios said.
"Guys just have to step up as he's a big loss offensively for us
in front of their net. But I feel confident we have the guys
here to fill that roll and step up."

The Oilers' longest-tenured current player, Smyth was the team's
first-round pick in 1994. The 30-year-old left wing has 250
goals and 268 assists in 742 career games.

To fill Smyth's spot on the active roster, the Oilers on Sunday
recalled left wing Alexei Mikhnov from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of
the American Hockey League.

Edmonton's first-round draft selection in 2000, the 6-5 Mikhnov
had three goals and seven assists in 13 games with the Penguins
this season.