Preview: Sharks at Oilers
SAN JOSE SHARKS (50-15-11) at
EDMONTON OILERS (36-32-9)
Start Time: 7:38 p.m. MDT
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Sharks Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
|SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Theo Peckham #49 of the Edmonton Oilers races Mike Grier #25 of the San Jose Sharks into the boards to retrieve the puck during an NHL game on February 17, 2009 at HP Pavilion at San Jose in San Jose, California. (Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Oilers Twitter Lineup Updates:
by Marc Ciampa & Jessica McPhee | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
At first glance, it looks like the Edmonton Oilers need to win each of their last five games to get into the postseason.
Anaheim and Nashville sit three points ahead of the Oilers while St. Louis is two up in 9th spot.
Time is ticking away but St. Louis losing last night in regulation time to Chicago was a big break for the Oilers. Anaheim plays tonight in Vancouver and the Blues play again - at Detroit. If those results go Edmonton's way coupled with a victory this evening the team could get an entirely new lease on life.
Edmonton has dropped five of its last six games at the worst possible time of the season. Most recently they fell 5-3 to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night to put them in this must-win-five predicament.
San Jose has been the class of the NHL pretty much all season long. With a record of 50-15-11 for 111 points, they're four points ahead of Detroit for top spot in the Western Conference. They're also three points clear of the Boston Bruins for the NHL's best record. San Jose has only one regulation loss in their last seven outings (5-1-1).
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between these two clubs. Edmonton has won once while San Jose has won twice so far.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
With only four home games remaining in the regular season, every point counts as the push towards the Playoffs continues in earnest. Consistently scoring points in his last five games, Ales Kotalik has been strong offensively. Kotalik has 18- 23-41 this season and has scored two shootout goals as an Oiler. Fan favourite Shawn Horcoff
has scored a point in three of his last four games bringing his season total to 16-33-49. While it’s often the point producers who get the credit, there’s something to be said for the team’s unsung heroes who contribute in equally important fashion. Alternate Captain Steve Staios consistently helps the team’s efforts on the blueline, especially in a season when the team’s been plagued with injuries on the backend. Staios is leading the team in shots blocked with 147, 18th overall in the NHL.
SHARKS TO WATCH:
Looking at the Western Conference standings where the Sharks are holding on to the top position by four points you wouldn’t know the team has been riddled with injuries this season. Overcoming these barriers, the Sharks have consistently iced a solid team who’ve produced offensively on a regular basis. Leading those efforts is centre Joe Thornton who’s scored 83 points. Thornton is tied for fourth overall in the NHL for assists with 56 and eighth overall for points. Alberta born sophomore, Devin Setoguchi, has made an impression in the NHL this season with 30-33-63. Setoguchi has seven points in his last five games and a stellar +17. Another centremen with great results this season is Joe Pavelski. He has five points in as many games and is in sixth place in the League for blocked shots by a forward. Pavelski has 23-33-56 and a +7. Evgeni Nabokov has been a solid last line of defence for the Sharks this season having tended the twine in 57 contests with 39 wins to his credit. Nabokov is second among NHL goalies for wins and has earned a .912 save percentage this season.
Edmonton—Lubomir Visnovsky (shoulder) is out. Robert Nilsson (lower body) is questionable. Ladislav Smid
(fractured hand) is out. San Jose—Torrey Mitchell (leg) is out. Marcel Goc (lower body) is questionable. Mike Grier (knee) is doubtful. Tomas Plihal (lower body) is doubtful. Jonathan Cheechoo (lower body) is questionable. Kent Huskins (foot) is doubtful. Rob Blake (lower body) is questionable. Ryane Clowe (lower body) is questionable.
In all of the 77 contests between the Sharks and the Oilers prior to this season the Copper and Blue have won 38, tied 12 and lost two in overtime, having earned 90 points in the process. In those 77 games, the Oilers have scored 240 times and allowed 215 goals... San Jose has the best home record in the NHL by far at 31-3-4 but on the road they're only 19-12-7. They've only picked up two more points than Edmonton away from home all season... Joe Pavelski is on a six-game scoring streak where he has three goals and eight points... San Jose is 35-5-4 when scoring first in a game this season... They are also 17-4-3 in games in which they were outshot by the opposition.
Playoff Race Update: Oilers still in it
- Updated April 2 at 12:04 a.m. MDT.
St. Louis lost on Wednesday night to the Chicago Blackhawks so they remain one point out of a playoff spot and two ahead of the Oilers. With a win tonight, Edmonton can boost their hopes. ...more
The Other Side - news from sjsharks.com
- Sharks and Wings down to final games - Six games remain in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy between San Jose and Detroit and the Sharks are sitting in the pole position with a four point cushion. Nine points by the Sharks will clinch the number one overall seed for the Playoffs. ...more
- Ask the Sharks: Travis Moen - Have a question for Sharks left wing Travis Moen? Here’s your chance to ask it. Send in your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll ask 6-foot-2, 215-pounder the best ones. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Jen's Journal - The Final Five: A Retrospective - With five losses in our past six games, five games left in the regular season, and three points removed from a playoff spot, the Oilers current situation is not ideal. ...more
- Watch Omark's amazing shootout goal - Oilers prospect Linus Omark pulled off a move rarely seen on Tuesday when he scored the deciding goal in a shootout to propel Team Sweden over Team Switzerland.Follow the link or click the play button above to watch the goal. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
With the playoffs starting in two weeks, the San Jose Sharks are trying to get several key players healthy for a Stanley Cup run. They're also making a strong push for the top seed in the Western Conference.
Short-handed San Jose looks to continue its quest for first place in the West and match a franchise record for victories Thursday night when it visits the stumbling Edmonton Oilers, who try to avoid falling further out of the playoff race.
After clinching their second consecutive Pacific Division crown with Saturday's 3-2 win over Phoenix, the Sharks defeated Calgary 2-1 on Monday to reach 50 victories for the second time in team history. The only other time San Jose had 50 wins was in 2006-07, when it recorded a franchise-best 51.
With Monday's win, the Sharks (50-15-11) also moved four points ahead of Detroit in the race for first in the West with six games remaining for each team. San Jose is 5-1-1 since March 19, but it hasn't been easy with all the injured players missing time.
The Sharks were without nine regulars Monday, including captain Patrick Marleau, defenseman Rob Blake and left wing Ryan Clowe.
Marleau, who leads the Sharks with 37 goals, is also expected to miss this game. He was instrumental in San Jose's two victories over the Oilers (36-32-9) this season, scoring two goals in each.
While Marleau was out Monday, Jonathan Cheechoo returned after missing two contests with a lower-body injury and scored the go-ahead goal in the second period.
"Anytime you don't have nine players, you want the other guys to step up and play well," said Evgeni Nabokov, who made 28 saves. "Our system has changed a little bit, we're not as aggressive and we have to be a little bit smarter, and in a way, I think it's helped us."
Nabokov is 7-1-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average and one shutout in starting the last 10 games for San Jose after missing the previous seven with the flu and a lower-body injury. He has also been in goal for each game against Edmonton this season, going 2-0-1 with a 1.97 GAA.
While the Sharks are building momentum for the postseason, the Oilers are in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight season.
Edmonton was seventh in the West on March 20 but has lost five of six to fall into a 10th-place tie with Minnesota - three points back of the final playoff spot.
In Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Anaheim, Denis Grebeshkov and Zack Stortini scored 68 seconds apart in the final minutes of the third period to get the Oilers within one. The Ducks, though, added an empty-net goal with 36 seconds remaining to put the game away.
"There are still 10 points available," Edmonton captain Ethan Moreau said. "I'd like to believe if we continue to play the style of hockey we did that we will have some success in the last five games."
Dwayne Roloson stopped 20 shots Tuesday to become the oldest goalie in NHL history to appear in at least 60 games. The 39-year-old Roloson, who has made 33 consecutive starts, has started each game against the Sharks this season, posting a 3.85 GAA in those meetings.