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Oilers get shutout 3-0 by the Sharks, but smell blood late

Although it was a somewhat quiet night in Edmonton, Darnell Nurse made all of the noise late in the game.

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports


It was another odd night in Edmonton. With a depleted lineup, the Oilers were in tough from the start of the game against a team hell bent on making the playoffs. The night started off on the wrong foot when Cam Talbot lost sight of a Logan Couture wrist shot. His shot fell to Talbot's feet but Couture was able to track it and bang the puck home.

Newly acquired Oilers fan heartthrob Patrick Maroon had an interesting comment on the Sharks first goal:

"We hung our heads and we just deflated," said Oilers winger Patrick Maroon. "We didn’t play a good hockey game at all. When they get a goal, you just see our bench deflate and it was like, ‘here we go again.’ I think we’ve got to respond better than that. We’ve got to play better hockey and hold each other accountable. It’s a hard league, but it can’t be individual stuff. We have to play together and as a group." -

Say what you will, this is something the Oilers have done too much of in the past and it happened again tonight. It took a while, but the team did provide some pushback against the Sharks in the third. By the end of the game, the Oilers had a clear advantage when it came to shots (31-22), shot attempts (60-45) as well as scoring chances (30-23). Source: War on ice.

This advantage however, was too little too late. It took the Oilers until the third period to begin to pour it on but James Reimer shut the door. The Sharks are a better team, and that showed as they were able to close the door effectively keeping the Oilers off the board. Having a goaltender do what Reimer did tonight never makes things easy either. He played a real good game.

In his own right, there wasn't much Cam Talbot could do on the three goals allowed. The first Couture goal was a complete fluke, and the second was again fluky after the puck deflected off Darnell Nurse's stick. The third? Well, what can you do. Talbot got caught sliding across the crease and Joe Pavelski was able to tip the point shot into the yawning cage.

That shouldn't deter the Oilers from taking lots of positives out of the game. The team pushed hard late in the game but needs to find ways to score earlier in the game. For a team oozing with offensive talent, they sure do have a tough time scoring. After the last five games on the road, I was really curious to see if the team continued with their Scrappy, Meat and Potatoes Hockey they played out east. I thought the team responded well, and it showed as they outhit the Sharks 19-15.

Moving forward, the Oilers have thirteen games remaining before the season is over, and all of them are against teams in the Western Conference. Nine of those games are against foes in the Pacific division. How do they respond from here? There is a chance for the OIlers to end this season on a real strong note. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom will be returning from injury sooner rather than later and they will be welcome additions back on the ice. 

Darnell Nurse is a savage.

And I honestly mean this in the best possible way. More so than his fight with Roman Polak at the end of the game, Nurse has really developed a "this is my puck, go find your own" mentality. His compete level along the boards saw him win many puck battles tonight and this has been that way for a while. This type of a player is something the Oilers have longed for.

Now, onto the fight.

I really wanted to take a good hard look at what had happened in it's entirety. From the start of the game, Nurse was playing with some fire tonight and that ended up pouring out with a minute left in the game when he pummeled Roman Polak into the ground. Was Nurse grabbing Polak and crushing him before he could even get his gloves of a little misguided? Sure. Maybe there are better ways to handle your anger.

At the end of the day hockey is an inherently violent sport where violent things happen on the ice. After watching Hendricks get taken into the boards twenty times in slow motion, there is no definitive answer to whether there was foul play on Polak's part. I do however feel that there is a good chance that Polak's stick made contact with Hendricks' skate sending him into the boards.

None the less, with Darnell Nurse sitting on the bench and looking down the ice I can certainly see how Nurse himself could have perceived the play to be intentional and violent. There was a two minute penalty assessed to Polak on the play, so at least one referee thought it was dangerous.

Was there a chance Polak challenged Nurse to the fight and just didn't have a chance to shake his gloves? I saw people on twitter talking about how Polak looked like he was just skating for a line change, but as he is a defenceman he would be getting on the bench at the closest point to his net. Polak seemed to have skated right by the blue line - which is in line with where he would enter the bench - and right at Darnell Nurse.

In the second Polak and Hendricks were jawing back and forth in the middle of a scrum in front of the Sharks net, and Nurse was on the ice. Did he see it and keep it in the back of his mind? Could be. Polak certainly wasn't quiet with the three hits he had during the game.

No matter how you feel about what happened, the simple matter that Darnell Nurse stood up for Matt Hendricks tells you everything you need to know. While Hendricks is usually the one found in the fights standing up for other players on the Oilers roster, it says a lot about Nurse's character to stand up for Hendricks.

I don't understand how anyone wants to move this guy.

What's next?

The Oilers head to Minnesota to take on a Wild team that has won four of their last five games.

Follow me on Twitter, @Loweded.