In this Pacific Division series opener, the Sharks pushed the game into overtime, coming from behind to win it 3-2. Melker Karlsson potted the winner to send everyone back home into euphoria, capping a comeback where San Jose scored three-straight goals.
The first five minutes felt pretty good. Great, even. Sharks playoff hockey was back and for five bright and shining minutes, there was hope.
But the first period fell apart quickly. Oscar Klefbom scored for the Oilers just under seven minutes into the period and that lit a fire under the Oilers that would last until well into the second period. Both teams flexed their power plays, but only the Oilers were able to make use of it, Milan Lucic putting them up 2-0 before the end of the first.
Joel Ward pulled the power play back together, scoring early into the second period to cut the lead in half. Despite that, the Sharks were slow getting back on their feet. The last four or so minutes of the second period is where they finally started to sustain pressure and put out a couple of really good shifts in a row.
With that momentum, the Sharks took advantage of some 4-on-4 hockey early in the third period. With Patrick Maroon and Marc Edouard Vlasic in the box for holding and roughing respectively, Paul Martin came in with the tying goal. The Sharks were able to build from there and the Oilers started to look gassed. It's possible the newness and the excitement of playoff hockey seemingly wore off on a roster where so few have seen the postseason and the reality settled in.
Timo Meier looked good in his first post-season appearance, drawing a penalty from Lucic in the third, that definitely helped frustrate the Oilers after the game was tied.
San Jose wiped the floor with Edmonton in possession, which meant little while Edmonton made better use of their chances, but once Edmonton was fatigued, it certainly helped the Sharks out to hang onto the puck as much as they did.
As overtime games go this one was pretty lop-sided. pic.twitter.com/Gm9ZmTN5Q9— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) April 13, 2017
Melker Karlsson came in early into overtime, snapping a real beauty of a goal past Cam Talbot, and that wrapped it up for game one.
The Sharks have more experience in the post season and the eye test is showing that to be a massive advantage. There are still concerns about injuries – Logan Couture might not be playing at 100% yet, but a seven game absence is hard enough to come back from in the regular season, let alone playoffs.
The referees helped set the tone for the series, calling seven penalties against Edmonton and four against San Jose, one of which was for an elbow to the already injured face of Couture. The Sharks scratched Micheal Haley, so hopefully as this series goes on, we'll see less pointless physicality.
Given that they were coming off a regular season slump, the Sharks needed to win this game. For the majority of the game, they deserved to win it.
As far as projections for the series? Any good Sharks fan knows it’s still too early to call.
Game two is Friday at 7:30pm PST in Edmonton.