PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Sharks
Oilers face off against the San Jose Sharks at Rexall Place
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RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
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EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers face off against the San Jose Sharks tonight at 7:30 p.m. looking to extend their winning streak to three games.
AT THE MORNING SKATE
Prior to the team’s morning skate, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins tweeted that Ben Scrivens will be getting the start in goal.
“Ben earns the start based on his last performance,” said Eakins. The head coach added that he felt the split was necessary for the Sunday/Monday back-to-back set considering the stats when a goaltender starts twice in a row.
Eakins also added on Twitterthat, although Ales Hemsky and captain Andrew Ference skated this morning, neither will play this evening.
Eakins was asked about revealing lineup information via his Twitter account, a first this season.
“I’ve got to pick up my daughter at 11:30 so I didn’t want you take up more of my time,” the head coach chuckled.
Otherwise, the team’s lines will the same as the past two games:
Hall - RNH - Eberle
Perron - Gagner - Yakupov
Hendricks - Gordon - Jones
Gazdic - Smyth - Joensuu
THIRD AND FOURTH LINES CRITICAL
Strong games from the team’s third and fourth lines contributed to their 5-1 win over Nashville on Sunday and 4-2 win over Vancouver on Monday. Eakins was asked if their continued good play would help balance a dangerous Sharks attack.
“Those lines, I thought ignited our team and given us a chance to win the games. Being not worried about the match-up but excited about the match-up because they’ve been going so well.”
The head coach added that it’s also very important that the top two lines are going against a team like San Jose who has a very effective top six.
“The other two lines need to bring it tonight, especially down the middle with the players that San Jose has.”
Defensive mindset is also something the team needs to achieve once again after having allowed only three goals in their last two games — a stretch they hadn’t seen since December 23-27.
“We‘re going to try and win this game 1-0. It seems to be working for us. I think the guys are getting the importance of those lower-scoring games and getting into that mindset.”
GREAT EXPERIENCE FOR MARINCIN
One of the Oilers who will be headed for Sochi is defenceman Martin Marincin.
Eakins talked about what he hopes that the big defender gets out of playing for his country on the largest stage.
“I hope he comes back really taking note of the experience. That’s a great life experience, number one. To be around the players he’s going to be around and to play against that calibre of player, you’re going to get an education very quickly.”
Eakins also talked about some concerns he has regarding any player heading overseas where it's an 11-hour difference between there and Edmonton.
“These guys coming back, that is a wicked time zone change — going over then coming back — it will be interesting to see how that affects those players. That’s a quiet worry for Marty, a guy with little experience who’s still growing. We definitely don’t want him to go in the tank quickly because of something like that.”
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
SHARKS (34-13-6) at OILERS (17-32-6)
TV: CSN-CA, SNET-W
Last 10: San Jose 7-3-0; Edmonton 3-6-1
Season series: This is the third of five games between the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers. Joe Thornton has set up four of the Sharks' eight goals as they've taken the first two games. Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock each have a win in goal.
Big story: Winning streaks haven't been easy to come by for the Oilers, but they can tie a season high of three in a row if they beat the Sharks in their final home game prior to the Olympic break.
Sharks: This is the start of a quick Alberta road trip for San Jose, which faces the Calgary Flames on Thursday before heading back to California. It's certainly possible whichever goalie faces the Oilers gets the following night off, because they've both been getting the job done.
Niemi has won his past four starts and his 27 wins rank second in the NHL behind only Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins. But there will be no reason for coach Todd McLellan to overuse him down the stretch, because Stalock broke the franchise record Monday with a scoreless streak of 178 minutes, 55 seconds, even though the Sharks went on to lose 1-0 to the Los Angeles Kings.
"Alex was real good," McLellan said. "Excellent experience for him tonight playing against that team, to fight through their size and their strength around the net, their deflections. It was very solid and we're very happy with him."
Oilers: There will be plenty of opportunity down the stretch for Edmonton to play the spoiler's role, and the Vancouver Canucks found out Monday the damage the Oilers are capable of doing.
The offseason acquisition of forward David Perron from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for forward Magnus Paajarvi continued to pay dividends as Perron completed his second career hat trick with an empty-net goal in a 4-2 win. The empty-netter was also Perron's 22nd goal of the season, a new career high with 27 games still remaining.
"It's good to get some sunlight into the cave once in a while," forward Jesse Joensuu, who also scored, said in the Edmonton Sun. "I think the last game obviously helped. I think overall our look was better than what it has been this season. I thought we deserved to win against these guys."
Who's hot: Sharks forward Joe Pavelski was limited to two shots and held off the board with the rest of his teammates Monday, ending a five-game point streak that featured seven goals and three assists. … Perron now has five goals in as many games for the Oilers. Forward Taylor Hall hasn't scored in seven games, but he's assisted on eight goals over that span.
Injury report: San Jose defenseman Scott Hannan (upper body) and forwards Logan Couture (hand), Marty Havlat (lower body), Tomas Hertl (knee), Adam Burish (lower body) and Raffi Torres (knee) remain on injured reserve. Couture centered Burish and Torres on an extra line during practice Tuesday. … Edmonton defenseman Andrew Ference (head) has missed the past two games. Forward Ales Hemsky (foot) has missed six straight. Defenseman Philip Larsen (illness) hasn't played since mid-December.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com