Sharks try to recapture early-season success vs. Oilers
The San Jose Sharks beat the Edmonton Oilers twice this season during their best start in franchise history, but have just five victories since the clubs last met to close out January.
The Sharks will try to recapture some of that early-season magic on Wednesday night when they battle the Oilers for the final time this regular season.
The Sharks' 7-0 start to the season included a 6-3 win at Edmonton on Jan. 22 and a 3-2 victory in a shootout at home on Jan. 31. San Jose has won three straight and seven of its last 10 overall against the Oilers as well as eight of its past 10 in Edmonton.
However, San Jose has gone just 5-10-6 since its home win over Edmonton and has lost six of its past seven overall. That has the former front-runners tied with Phoenix and Columbus for eighth in the Western Conference with 30 points, though the Coyotes and Blue Jackets are both idle tonight.
The Sharks have lost five times on the road over their last seven games and play the third of a five-game swing on Wednesday. They fell to 4-9-2 as the guest this season on Monday with a 5-3 setback to the Anaheim Ducks.
Patrick Marleau scored, Jason Demers added his first goal of the season and rookie defenseman Matt Irwin netted a goal in his third straight game. Antti Niemi made 23 saves in defeat, which saw the Ducks score three goals in a 2:46 span in the second.
"When we played on our toes we looked pretty good. We put a good effort in, but we fell asleep for a few minutes in the second period," Sharks center Joe Thornton said.
Forward Martin Havlat returned to the lineup after missing seven straight games due to a lower body injury and had an assist, while Ryane Clowe sat out the setback with a shoulder ailment.
The Oilers sit just two points back of the Sharks and have gone 3-0-1 since a five-game slide that was capped with a 6-0 setback in Nashville on March 8. Edmonton avenged that loss on Sunday, knocking off the visiting Predators 3-2.
Lennart Petrell and Jordan Eberle both scored in the third period, with Petrell putting the Oilers in front with a short-handed tally and Eberle adding insurance with his first goal in 11 games.
"It was nice to finally chip in with a goal again. It's been a while. I'd been getting chances but they weren't going in," said Eberle, who also had an assist and had also logged six helpers during his goal drought.
Magnus Paajarvi also scored and Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for the Oilers, who won for the first time this season when tied after two periods (1-6-1).
Eberle has three assists in the two games versus the Sharks this season, with Taylor Hall scoring twice.
Logan Couture leads all Sharks with three goals and four points versus Edmonton this season, while Marleau, Thornton and Joe Pavelski have three points each.