The NHL’s leading scorer and the Edmonton Oilers had it every which way against the at-home San Jose Sharks. Notably, the powerhouse squad from Alberta had a monster middle period, with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all posting a goal and an assist. The feat increased the Oilers’ lead to 5-0, arguably putting the game out of reach even before the final frame. McDavid scored the first goal of the night and Klim Kostin added a tally of his own in the first period of play.
The Sharks could have salvaged some dignity in the third, but the Oilers weren’t done yet. Jesse Puljujarvi notched a goal with the help of Nugent-Hopkins again — bringing him on par with birthday boy McDavid and Draisaitl for three points each on the night. Then Ryan McLeod added a goal less than a minute later for good measure.
With a 7-0 deficit and five minutes remaining in regulation, the Sharks finally got on the board off of the stick of Oskar Lindblom, whose goal earned Jonah Gadjovich and Matt Benning assists and stole a shutout victory from Edmonton netminder, Jack Campbell. It was 7-1 when the final buzzer took pity on the Sharks.
McDavid and Draisaitl are the NHL’s number one and two scoring leaders. They padded their stats last night, bringing them to point totals of 82 and 66, respectively. As much as the Oilers are criticized for not giving these two superstars help, it wasn’t all them this game. Puljujarvi, for example, got off a six-game schneid with his goal. Edmonton was very much McDavid and the well-oiled machine that fans hope the team will be come playoff time.
Winning the 5-on-5 battle
The Sharks probably want to forget last night. The team soaked up four goals against and scored just once at 5-on-5. It was the only goal, despite earning four power plays.
Speaking of special teams, San Jose slipped off the rails in that regard, as well. The league’s best power play that is the Oilers punished the Sharks with two goals on the skater-advantage and added a shorthanded goal while Edmonton was on the kill. Most of that happened in the second period, where four of the eight penalties during this match-up were called.
But special teams aside, the Sharks were just as bad at 5-on-5 hockey. Looking at it period-by-period, the Sharks lost all three, going minus-one at 5-on-5 in each frame.
Head coach David Quinn tried to jumpstart the team after an anemic second period by juggling the lines — Mikey Eyssimont skated up with Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, while Kevin Labanc flipped to the third line with Nico Sturm and Nick Bonino. On the power play, Bonino tried out on the half-wall in place of Alexander Barabanov, as well as a second unit of mostly new faces.
But it was all for naught. The only success came from the untouched fourth line with Lindblom’s tally. Even at that, it was too little too late. It seems any way you turn this game, the Sharks failed categorically.
Facing the back-up
While Campbell has mostly played himself out of a number-one role in net this season, he had a solid showing against San Jose. His save totals were 25-for-26, earning him a save percentage of .962 on the night. It probably won’t do much in the way of reestablishing himself as the starter, but Edmonton definitely needed a renaissance from him in this situation with Stuart Skinner unavailable.
On the Sharks’ end, the team has grown accustomed to facing back-up goaltenders, from higher-profile teams like the Oilers and fellow league basement-dwellers alike. Pheonix Copley, Anthony Stolarz and Samuel Ersson come to mind, who all have recent wins against San Jose.
Campbell faced a majority of low-danger shot attempts against the Sharks, however numerous those attempts were. San Jose had a few chances on the power play, but were just stymied by Campbell. So either the Sharks needed to keep Campbell busier — as nine shots per period wont cut it on most nights — or challenge him with better shot-selection to be competitive in this game.
Campbell clearly had enough gas in the third for these kinds of heroics:
JACK CAMPBELL— NHL (@NHL) January 14, 2023
Now this right here is a Souper save! ♂️ pic.twitter.com/ucopRzr2vK
NHL All-Star Timo Meier?
No All-Star antics to speak of and no highlights to give regarding Timo Meier, who posted just one shot on goal this game. He wasn’t even the best player on his line, being edged out by newcomer Eyssimont in expected goal percentage (xG%), with 58.04 percent versus Eyssimont’s 59.27 percent at 5-on-5. It’s not Meier’s fault, as the entire team, including Erik Karlsson, could not crack 60 xG% through 60 minutes. It’s all to say that there was no offense coming from the team, from the star players or elsewhere.
Still, having a point-per-game average through six games in January so far, Meier can manage an off game from his usual level of play from time to time. The weekend off before taking on the New Jersey Devils Monday will be a welcome retreat, especially after it was previously reported that the Devils could be interested in Meier — who would hypothetically be reunited with fellow Swiss countryman, Nico Hischier.
From a career year last season to being nearly a point-per-game player so far in 2022-23, impending free agent Meier could either command a huge raise with the San Jose organization or fetch a good return as the rebuild-imminent Sharks face down the trade deadline on Mar. 3.