Ales Hemsky skated on a leg and a prayer the last time the Edmonton Oilers faced the Montreal Canadiens.

The veteran winger willed himself to a goal and two assists in 18-1/2 minutes of work in the Oilers 5-4 overtime rally at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Dec. 1.

But Hemsky limped back to the bench a couple of times and later in the dressing room admitted he was really hurting. It turned out it wasn't just a groin pull, but a groin muscle tear.

He ended up missing a month.

"Looking back, I shouldn't have played. I wanted to because that's what I like doing, you know, playing hockey ... and I had the injury last year (shoulder surgery) and didn't want to miss more games. I had already sat out three," said Hemsky. "I thought I'd battle through it, then I ended up missing four weeks.