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A Pacific Battle For First

Heading into the Christmas break, the Oilers and Sharks will battle for first place in the Pacific.

Could probably use a rest.  Probably won't get one if Gustavsson is still on the roster.
Could probably use a rest. Probably won't get one if Gustavsson is still on the roster.
Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

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San Jose
18-12-5, 41 points, 1.171 p/g- Ranks 20-12-1, 41 points, 1.242 p/g
Pacific Division - 2nd Pacific Division - 1st
12th Points / Game 9th
9th Special Teams 15th
5th Shots on Goal 8th
13th Goal 5th
8:30 PM MDT
TV - Sportsnet Oilers
Radio - 630 CHED
SAP Center

The opposing view

Milan Lucic - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle
Patrick Maroon - Leon Draisaitl - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Benoit Pouliot -  Drake Caggiula - Taylor Beck
Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Zack Kassian


Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera - Kris Russell
Brandon Davidson - Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot
Jonas Gustavsson

Hanging On In Arizona

Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic and Matt Hendricks would each score a goal to put the Oilers up 3-0 by the third minute of the second period.   Hell, Zack Kassian nearly made it 4-0 before another one of his goals were called back.  "This is gonna be the day where the Oilers score twelve goals en route to a victory five years in the making", I thought.  "I can start my drinking early, and not have to pound them angrily all at once".

Nope.  Martin Hanzal would score a power play goal for the Coyotes midway through the second, just to make it interesting.

"One goal," I thought.  It was sporting of the Oilers to make it at least a little interesting.  Edmonton finished the second period with 20 shots, just as many as the Coyotes had.  Cruising into the third with a two goal lead, it's gonna be just fine.

The third period was nearly a gongshow  Eric Gryba's ass got him in trouble, Mark Letestu and Martin Hanzal went tusslin', and then it got really weird with OEL and Zack Kassian, after Oliver Ekman-Larsson hit Matt Hendricks from a vulnerable position.  Ekman-Larsson would score to bring the Coyotes to within one goal with six seconds remaining, but the Oilers would hold on to eek two regulation points out of Arizona for the first time in years.

The Oilers are in San Jose for a battle of first place in the Pacific.  Can the Oilers finish a perfect three-for-three on their three game roadie?

Let's go to the tape.

The Oilers are saying

That's Oilers forward Matt Hendricks after his team's 3-2 victory against Arizona on Wednesday night.

Absolutely no problem with Zack Kassian coming in to deck Oliver Ekman-Larsson after Larsson hit Hendricks from a vulnerable position.  The Oilers paid Milan Lucic a king's ransom to come in and do that on Connor McDavid's line, it only cost them

Problem?  One total shot on goal in the third period.  Not just from Matt Hendricks, but the entire club.


The opponents are saying

That's Sharks captain Joe Thornton on San Jose's recent successes, as well as the current lay of the land in the Pacific Division.  Thornton played in his 1400th game on Tuesday, a 4-1 victory over Calgary.

San Jose has two games in hand over the Oilers right now.  A win tonight would give the Oilers 43 points, and maybe the Sharks forget how to play hockey for a week or so after the break.

Have some of this

  • LINE SWITCH: If you've paid attention to Jesse Puljujarvi's time with the Oilers this season, you'll recognize that he's been more out of the lineup than in recently.  It will certainly not surprise you that he is one again out of the lineup.  Taylor Beck will play alongside Drake Caggiula and  Benoit Pouliot tonight.  Everything else should remain the same.
  • Tyler Pitlick will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, an injury he suffered during the St. Louis game on Monday.  Oilers have to make a move (or two) in order to fix up the RW slot, it's ugly as hell even with Pitlick in the lineup.
  • Speaking of right wingers, the Oilers have got to acquire a backup goaltender.  Talbot is on his way to 70+ games this season, and if this team somehow finds themselves in the second season, I'd prefer a Talbot that isn't burnt to a crisp.  What does Jonas Enroth cost to get from the Leafs?  A conditional pick?
  • TWO BUSY NETMINDERS: Cam Talbot will go again tonight for the Oilers (17-10-4, .918 SV% / 2.52 GAA / 3 SO) while Martin Jones (17-11-1, .920 SV% / 2.09 GAA / 2 SO) will start tonight's game for Arizona.
  • Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Mark Fayne (groin), Tyler Pitlick (knee) and Darnell Nurse (lower body) will be out for the Oilers. The Sharks are without Tomas Hertl, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury.