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Game Thread: Oilers at Sharks - This Could Get Ugly

The Oilers head into San Jose tonight to take on the Sharks. The puck hasn't even dropped yet and already things look ugly for the visitors.

Welcome back Mr. Lander.
Welcome back Mr. Lander.
John Grieshop

Last week the Sharks demolished the Oilers in their home opener. The final score was 6-3 but that score is very flattering for the Oilers since the Sharks were up 6-1 after the first period and only played the last two periods because they had too. The second and third periods saw the Oilers get better results but when the team you're playing against is simply going through the motions that is a hollow achievement to say the least.

Tonight the Oilers are of course hoping for a better effort and a better result tonight but they're already in a tough spot playing their second game in two nights and now will be doing so without Shawn Horcoff and possibly Lennart Petrell as well. To make matters worse they might be starting Nikolai Khabibulin tonight who, as dawgbone so eliquently puts it, is an "aging veteran goalie who has a history of injuries. He hasn’t played in over 9 months, suffered an injury in camp and started out on the IR." If you're an Oilers fan that's got to make you feel good.

Team Reports

Oilers Report: The Oilers play on back-to-back nights for the first time this season and of course it happens to coincide with the first time the team has a couple of injury issues. Or at least injuries that matter, not ones involving Ben Eager or Nikolai Khabibulin. As mentioned above, Shawn Horcoff, also know as the only centre the Sharks didn't eat alive last week, won't play tonight; Anton Lander has been recalled to fill in for him. To make room for Lander the Oilers had to send Magnus Paajarvi to Oklahoma City. Paajarvi is essentially the odd man out because the Oilers are carrying two number seven defenceman - Corey Potter and Theo Peckham - and Darcy Hordichuk as well. Effectively they have a 21 man roster.

Crazy roster decisions aside, the Oilers likely would have preferred to keep Paajarvi around and just moved Lennart Petrell into the middle of the fourth line between Teemu Hartikainen and Darcy Hordichuk. Unfortunately Petrell was nicked in the third period against the Coyotes as well and is no better than a game time decision at this point so the choice was all but made for them. The Oilers will skate seven defencemen in the warmup just in case Petrell can't go tonight.

Sharks Report: San Jose has gotten off to a great start this season and is the last team in the NHL with a perfect record. The Sharks currently sit atop the Pacific Division standings (but not the Western Conference because the Black Hawks have played extra additional game) with a record of 6-0-0 and league best +15 goal differential. Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have been almost unstoppable this season with a comined 12 goals and 28 points in just six games.

Expected Line Combinations

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky

Ryan Smyth - Eric Belanger - Lennart Petrell

Teemu Hartikainen - Anton Lander - Darcy Hordichuk

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry

Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz

Ryan Whitney - Mark Fistric

Nikolai Khabibulin

Scratches: Theo Peckham, Corey Potter, Shawn Horcoff

Injured Reserve: Ben Eager, Ryan Jones, Andy Sutton

Broadcast Information

HP Pavilion, 8:30 pm MST
TV - Sportsnet Oilers
Radio - 630 CHED

By The Numbers

The Oilers have scored a power play goal in each of their six games so far this season. It was December of 2008 when the Oilers last recorded a power play goal in six straight games. In 2008 the Oilers scored eight goals in those six games, this time around the team has totalled 11 power play goals.

The Oilers played back-to-back games 12 times last year. In the first game the Oilers recorded an 8-3-1 record; then next night the result was nearly the opposite, a 4-7-1 record. Only once last season did the Oilers win both games in a back-to-back.

The Sharks have been a much better team than the Oilers in recent seasons and their record against the Oilers reflects that. Since the start of the 2008/09 season the Sharks are 12-2-1-2 overall and 5-1-1-1 at home against the Oilers.

Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner are one and two in points on the Oilers this season and both are on six game point streaks. For Hall this is a new career high; his previous best was five games a mark he's reached twice. For Gagner, he's still a few games shy of the career best nine game streak he put up as a rookie in February of 2008.