The Sharks rebounded from a disastrous start in Edmonton last night by scoring three-straight goals and doing what they had to do: Stealing a game on the road. Now San Jose can do one better and sweep the opening road stanza in Alberta and head back to Silicon Valley with a 2-0 lead in its pocket. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area (and NBC Sports if you’re out of the Bay Area).
San Jose escaped a poor start against the Oilers on Wednesday as Edmonton took its foot off the gas played a sloppy second half of the game, taking seven minor penalties to the Sharks’ four. The Sharks played better, to be sure, but Edmonton lost the game as much as San Jose won it — I don’t expect that to happen again tonight.
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said himself the Sharks got the better of line changes, at times being seven seconds ahead of Edmonton. That’s baffling for two reasons: 1) Edmonton has every advantage by being the home team (granted that only matters when there’s been a whistle) and 2) Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer has been at best ambivalent about line matching in his San Jose tenure. We’ll see if that changes tonight.
The possession numbers bode well for San Jose’s ongoing success in this series. It’s worth noting the number of bullets the Sharks dodged in Game One, though. Connor McDavid had a one-on-absolutely-nobody opportunity, and he wasn’t the only one. The Sharks got away with some high-profile mistakes; there’s no guarantee they’ll dodge those bullets again tonight.
This is going to be a tight series, in spite of what I believe will continue to be a possession advantage for San Jose, because of Edmonton’s top end skill. Martin Jones was shaky last night and McDavid, while neutralized by Tomas Hertl, roasted Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun. The Sharks have the series lead ... but it’s a long series. Buckle up.