SAN JOSE, CA - It was almost Groundhog Day for the Oilers on Monday as they let a two-goal lead after 40 minutes slip away again, but they redeemed themselves this time with a 5-4 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks.
Just two nights after jumping out to a 2-0 lead after two periods on Saturday in Calgary before losing 4-2, Edmonton led San Jose 3-1 after 40 minutes before the Sharks scored three straight. This time around, though, Edmonton tied it back up to force overtime and eventually won it in a shootout. The Oilers now have four wins in their last six games, three coming via the shootout, and are 7-6-2 under Coach Todd Nelson.
“Wow, what a great hockey game,” Nelson said following the back-and-forth affair. “I thought our guys played extremely well. We had the same scenario tonight as we did in Calgary, but we stuck with it and we got rewarded. I’m very proud of the guys. We had a lot of solid efforts and I’m happy with the outcome. A lot of character.”
And this was no three- or four-round shootout win either. The Oilers and Sharks took a whopping 13 rounds to decide a winner. Viktor Fasth was unbelievable, stopping 12 of 13 Sharks attempts with Brent Burns scoring their lone goal. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored to off-set Burns in the fifth round before Rob Klinkhammer notched the winner in the 13th.
“We showed a lot of resiliency, a lot of character, and that’s great for us,” said Klinkhammer, who beat Antti Niemi on a forehand wrist shot to secure the shootout win. “I got the call and got lucky enough to score one. Vik held us in there and it was awesome. It was a big two points for us, and we’ll take it.”
The Sharks got on the board in predictable fashion 11:50 into the opening frame as Joe Pavelski picked up his 14th power-play goal of the season, tying Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead. With Captain Andrew Ference in the box for a hook (which prevented a goal on the play), Patrick Marleau put a slap-pass on net that Pavelski redirected past Fasth.
The Oilers replied with 1:57 to go in the first as reunited Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle hooked up for a masterful, highlight-reel tally. Hall got the puck on the half-wall and zinged a cross-ice pass to a streaking Eberle, who dangled around Marleau and then deked out Niemi before roofing a backhand for his 14th goal and 32nd point, both tops on the team.
Eberle’s first goal knotted the score at 1-1 through 20, but #14 wasn’t done after one, scoring again just 22 seconds into the middle frame to give the Oilers their first lead of the night. Justin Schultz fired a shot on net and Niemi kicked it aside with his right pad, but Eberle was right there to corral the rebound and flick it high past the Sharks netminder to make it 2-1. The go-ahead goal was the winger’s 15th of the season (33rd point) and also the 15th two-goal game of his career.
The Oilers kept rolling in the second as Derek Roy lit the lamp 9:39 into the frame to make it 3-1. Nail Yakupov did the lion’s share of the work on the goal, stealing the puck in the corner, bursting around the Sharks net, creeping out front and sliding a pass to Roy in the slot for the one-timer slap-shot top-shelf with Matt Fraser creating traffic in front of Niemi. Roy has been solid since the Oil acquired him from Nashville, scoring four goals and nine points in 15 games.
Facing a two-goal deficit, the Sharks came out buzzing to start the third and quickly got within one thanks to veteran blueliner Scott Hannan’s first goal of the season. Joe Thornton found him streaking to the net for the redirect to make it 3-2. Then, just three minutes later, Matt Tennyson’s point shot through traffic found the top corner and the Sharks knotted the score at 3-3 with plenty of time left in the third.
After Pavelski scored his second of the game with 10:32 remaining, the Oilers netted the equalizer and forced OT with 2:37 on the clock as Schultz’s shot attempt from a bad angle ricocheted off a Sharks player and past Niemi for his fourth goal of the season and 21st point
“It was scary, to be honest,” Eberle said of the wild night. “We didn’t play well at all in the third and they capitalized… But I loved our compete back. We found a away to get a goal there at the end… It was an exciting game for the fans, but at the same time in the third periods we’ve got to find a way to clean it up. It seems like we’re playing a little scared and hesitant. Hopefully we can find a way to close teams off.”
The Oilers suffered a major blow up front early in the third period when both Hall and Benoit Pouliot left the game with lower-body injuries. Hall had just returned to action after suffering a bruised lower leg from getting hit with a puck during practice one week prior. Coach Nelson said he re-aggravated the injury slightly and was removed from the game as a precaution. Pouliot, meanwhile, had taken a shot off the foot.
Next up for the Oilers is a short stop back in Edmonton for Wednesday’s much anticipated home battle against Sidney Crosby, David Perron and the Pittsburgh Penguins at 6pm MT. From there, it’s back on the road six straight out east with games against the Maple Leafs, Devils, Islanders, Canadiens, Senators and Jets.