In a playoff rematch, the Sharks (28-18-8, 3rd Pacific) host the poor, doomed Edmonton Oilers (23-26-4, 6th Pacific) in the first half of a back to back against Pacific division foes this weekend. A battle of back ups is on tap, as both Aaron Dell and Oilers second (or third or fourth) stringer Al Montoya are set to start for their respective teams at the tank this evening.
The Sharks' frustrating Thursday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, their second in a row, combined with the Los Angeles Kings' victory over the Florida Panthers last night, dropped San Jose from a precarious second place perch to an even precariouser third place, one point back from the aforementioned Kings and tied with the Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames for the third and final Pacific playoff spot.
As tenuous as that position sounds, the Oilers would likely trade places with the Sharks any day. They sit 14 points back of the Sharks, and 14 points back of the Minnesota Wild in the Western conference's second wild card spot. Guarantees from goaltender Cam Talbot (clearly not a math major) aside, the Oilers are finished in every way except mathematically, and are effectively playing spoiler for the rest of the year.
Still, these orange boys are likely no worse than they were in December, when they beat up on our Sharks 5-3 in Edmonton. Both squads are playing hurt, as the Sharks are missing Joel Ward after an unpenalized hit into the boards courtesy of Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt in addition to the looming absence of Joe Thornton. The Oilers will be forced to sit both Andrei Sekera and Drake Caggiula after both skaters took pucks to the face last night in a 3-2 loss in Anaheim.
If the Sharks can take advantage of a weak Oilers roster and contain the club's points, goals, and assists leader Connor McDavid, and the Tampa Bay Lightning can to us all a favor and starch the Kings this afternoon, they may be able to reclaim their division silver medal. Seems like a lot, though, don't it?
Tonight's game is the NHL's free streaming game for the day, so if you're on the road or don't have a gamecenter subscription, stream away.
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier -- Joe Pavelski -- Joonas Donskoi
Mikkel Boedker -- Chris Tierney -- Melker Karlsson
Barclay Goodrow -- Daniel O'Regan -- Jannik Hansen
Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Injured: Joe Thornton (knee), Joel Ward (shoulder)
As mentioned above, Dell will start, likely to free up Jones to start against the Ducks tomorrow afternoon. We'll see if Hansen can shake off seven games worth of rust replacing Ward in the lineup.
Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Jesse Puljujarvi
Milan Lucic -- Leon Draisaitl -- Michael Cammalleri
Jujhar Khaira -- Ryan Strome -- Zack Kassian
Anton Slepyshev -- Mark Letestu -- Iiro Pakarinen
Darnell Nurse -- Brandon Davidson
Oscar Klefbom -- Kris Russell
Yohann Auvitu -- Matt Benning
Scratched: Adam Larsson, Keegan Lowe
Injured: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (upper body), Andrej Sekera (face), Drake Caggiula (face)
That Larsson healthy scratch, if true, is delicious.
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, CITY, SN360, SN
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App