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Quick Bite: Not so special teams allow Oilers to tie series at 1 with Sharks

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Can a team choose to only ice four skaters? Asking for a friend. His name is, er, Brodd BcLellan, why?

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers clearly learned very little about avoiding penalties between games one and two of this series, but they learned about the cost of those penalties tonight. Or the lack thereof. The Sharks’ power play has to be a topic of concern after game two on Friday night, where the Sharks went -2 for 6, bringing their total for the series to -1 for 12. That’s not actually how to count these things, but extreme circumstances call for extreme measurements. It was, how shall I say this delicately, garbage.

It wasn’t always this way, as the two teams seemed to skate with each other pretty well through most of the first period. The Sharks looked a little slow, but that’s to be expected against this high flying Oilers team. The second period was a completely different, and much sadder, story. The Oilers mounted a constant parade to the penalty box, a strategy that went blissfully unpunished by San Jose. On a cross-checking penalty to Pat Maroon left over from the end of the first, Joe Pavelski mishandled a bobbling puck right to Mark Letestu, who fed it to a streaking Zack Kassian. Kassian had plenty of time to think about what to do with the puck (and the rest of his evening) before wristing it past Jones to make it 1-0 Edmonton at 00:42 of the second.

The rest of the second was a similar comedy of errors, the Oilers out penaltied the Sharks 3-0, out shot the Sharks 12-6, and out hit the Sharks a billion to 2. The Kassian goal seemed to leak some blood into the water for the Oilers, and they pushed hard for the entirety of the second, but Jones stood tall and weathered the storm.

The Sharks came out more composed and a bit more dangerous in the third, but as Edmonton’s penalty parade continued unabated, San Jose’s power play woes continued, tallying up to 0 for 6 with only 5 shots on net, and allowing 2 shorthanded goals (wait for it), and, what the hell, throw in a power play icing to taste. Finally, and it was really only a matter of time, Connor McDavid got on the board with a shorthanded goal (there it is) at 10:31 of the 3rd. Left wide open on the left wing by a collapsing Sharks power play, McDavid did what McDavid does best, he skated 150 feet in two seconds and went five-hole on Martin Jones.

The Oilers continued to take some serious liberties over the rest of the third, with Kassian and Milan Lucic high sticking hither and thither and Adam Larsson cross checking Tomas Hertl in the face, now that they know they were being rewarded for being shorthanded. San Jose emptied the net with over two minutes left, but a slashing penalty to Brent Burns ended this one prematurely, and mercifully.

FTF Three Stars

  1. Okay, fine. Zack Kassian. I have to go take a shower.
  2. Cam Talbot
  3. Connor McDavid

Notes

  • Some of that classic T Mac two-centers-on-the-top-line-then-get-thrown-out-of-the-dot-on-purpose-so-the-better-center-can-get-put-in-and-take-the-draw-without-getting-thrown-out strategy, I see. The old TCOTTLTGTOOTDOPSTBCCGPIATTDWGTO.
  • Marcus Sorensen made some really smart choices through the neutral zone in the first period, which is a shame seeing as either he or Timo Meier, who also played well (considering), will get scratched in game 3 to make room for Michael Haley, a decision I don’t actually hate.
  • Somebody took these refs’ penalty books and tore the page with interference on it out of all but one of them. Left the rest of the pages in, though.
  • Very sad numbers: Sharks were 0 for 6 power plays, were out shot 6-5 in that time, and outscored 2-0. Oof.
  • The online reaction to Kassian’s game was baffling. Did we all forget who Zack Kassian is? Yes, he had a good game, but that was two flying headshots, and if you’re wondering which of those players he is, ask Matt Kennedy. Full disclosure, maybe I hold a grudge for too long, but I never really forgave Raffi Torres for his hit on Milan Michalek, and the Oilers’ reactions to Kassian despite him liquefying Sam Gagner’s face in 2013 seems very similar.
  • If someone had time traveled and told me the Sharks would split the games in Edmonton, I would have been pretty happy. I am not, however, pretty happy now. Curious.