Facing the hapless Edmonton Oilers - the only team worse than the Buffalo Sabres - the Sharks probably weren't focusing too much on preparation against them. Especially on the second half of a back-to-back. Even then, the Sharks came out jumping, evoking the style of play they were known for through the first month of the season. While they did start sitting back in the second period, as they have been through the recent slump, they regrouped in the third and won the game relatively decisively three goals to one.
The first Sharks goal came on the man advantage, from the always entertaining top power play unit. Joe Thornton passed the puck to Marleau, whose initial shot generated a rebound that deflected off of Thornton right to Joe Pavelski. Pavelski made no mistake and potted the rebound as Andrew Ference interfered with his own goalie.
Shortly afterwards, the Sharks top line of Thornton, Wingels, and Hertl hooked up to score. Thornton, as he is known to do, curled around the net and passed to Tomas Hertl, who was left alone in front of Devin Dubnyk. Hertl did what he has been known to do this season, and slipped the puck past Dubnyk for his rookie- and team-leading 12th goal of the season.
The Sharks' third goal was scored on a pretty, pretty breakout by Thornton, Demers and Marleau. They broke into the offensive zone in a horizontal line, with Thornton passing to Demers passing to Marleau who sniped it past Dubnyk to take a 3-0 lead.
Though the Oilers came into the game with a three game home goalless streak, there was no possibility of that extending to four games with how the Sharks have been playing and it being the second half of a back to back. Midway through the second, the Oilers started pouring on the pressure as the Sharks started leaning back on their 3-0 lead.
Initially, it seemed as though the Oilers were enjoying their impotency, not scoring in the most ridiculous of manners. Stalock was pulled completely out of the net, leaving Ryan Smyth a wide-open net for an easy wraparound goal that even Teemu Selanne could score on. Smyth instead missed the net. On the next faceoff, Perron hit the post. Seconds after that, the Oilers had a 3-on-1; but as Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the 1, Edmonton failed to even record a shot.
However, with the sustained Oilers pressure, cue the obligatory Brad Stuart penalty. And as the Oilers have done in five of their past six games, they converted on the power play. Sam Gagner passed a bouncing puck to the oft-maligned Nail Yakupov, who batted the puck past Stalock to end the home shutout streak at 214:52.
This was the reaction from the Oilers official twitter account:
That's not a tweet from a team that's had a lot of success, folks.
With the beginning of the third period, the Sharks started to make the ice tilt back towards Dubnyk again, though the Oilers still recorded several good chances. Good defense by Justin Braun prevented even more chances, as he has solidified his new-found reputation as an excellent defensive defenseman.
Both the Oilers and Sharks traded powerplay opportunities in the third. Sharks got a four minute powerplay off of a Yakupov high stick on Andrew Desjardins, but that was mostly negated by a Patrick Marleau hooking call and Scott Hannan holding call. Sharks played the 4-on-4 well, and kill the 40+ second Edmonton powerplay afterwards.
With 1:34 left in the game, the Oilers pulled Dubnyk to get the extra attacker. However, the Oilers failed to set up in the zone; the Sharks took more shot attempts (all blocked) than the Oilers did in that final 94 seconds. The Sharks held on to win in regulation for the first time in five weeks.
- Logan Couture has stated how much he loves playing against Edmonton because of the chip on his shoulder from relative lack of coverage. Though he didn't record any points, he had 8 shots tonight and 14 total shot attempts. Plus there was that double-post shot that Randy Hahn thought was a goal. He was very good.
- Alex Stalock made 30 saves tonight, and many of the difficult variety. Wins mean about as much as plus/minus, but he's now 3-0 on the season. Oh, and he also has a .952 SV% and 1.41 GAA.
- And then of course, he came out past the faceoff circle to play the puck while on the powerplay. His love of Martin Broduer's style of play is evident. Can't wait for his remaining two starts this season.
- The Sharks have swept their Western Canada road trip (Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton) for the first time in franchise history.
- Edmonton Oilers : home goals :: San Jose Sharks : overtime goals
- It was only slightly surprising that Martin Havlat was a healthy scratch tonight. He has been invisible on the ice for a majority of the season; he's tied with Mike Brown in goals. He's tied with Mike Smith - the goalie for the Phoenix Coyotes - in goals and assists. It's seemed as though he's been in Todd McLellan's doghouse since last season's playoffs, and nothing he has done this season has changed that.
- Two players that have also drawn some criticism from the coach - Tyler Kennedy and Matt Nieto - both had decent games tonight.
- Justin Braun has proven that it's not just the Marc-Edouard Vlasic effect - he really is that good defensively now. Team USA better be watching.
- Joe Thornton's
threetwo assists tonight leave him one pointtwo points behind Nicklas Lidstrom in the all-time points list.
- In his post game press conference, Todd McLellan state that he wished he had given Mike Brown more ice time tonight. My reaction.