Momentum can be cruel. Andrej Sekera, attempting to slow the momentum of a speeding Logan Couture, headed to the net on a breakaway, splays out with his body and stick, taking Couture down. The momentum from the sliding leg of Couture ends up deflecting the puck in the net, effectively killing any momentum the Oilers had managed to build in the beginning of the third period.
Two goals from Matt Benning and Oscar Klefbom early in the third period closed a 4-1 Sharks lead to 4-3, but an untimely goal from Couture cut the blood flow from the Oilers comeback in what would ultimately be a 5-3 win for the visiting San Jose Sharks over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. The win put the Sharks in sole possession of first place in a competitive Pacific Division, with the Oilers now sitting three points back.
Despite outshooting the Sharks 36-28, and 28-15 in the final two periods, a lethargic start forced the team into a position of having to make a comeback down three goals against the division leader, and while they came close with an offensive outburst early in the third period, it was a night when everything seemed to bounce or tip in for the Sharks while a number of stellar scoring chances by the Oilers continually failed to find the back of the net.
The Sharks got off to an early lead when off the faceoff, Mikkel Boedker roofed home the rebound off a Brent Burns shot just 1:39 into the game for the 1-0 lead. The Sharks were outshooting the Oilers 9-3 by the midway point of the first period, and it was a gritty shift by the fourth line that seemed to spark the Oilers back to life. Drake Caggiula was finally able to beat a very sharp Martin Jones at 15:53, going to the net and burying the puck for his third of the season to tie it up at 1-1.
A homeless fellow named Brent Burns, however, showed up to help the Sharks retake the lead with just 12 seconds left in the first period as his shot from the blueline magically made it past all the traffic in front and directly to the back of the net for his 16th of the season.
Coming back from the intermission, the Oilers responded to that late goal with great urgency, dominating possession and throwing pucks on net, but despite outshooting the Sharks 16-8 in the period, the Oilers still found themselves somehow down 4-1 at the end of it, largely due to the spectacular play of Martin Jones, robbing Maroon in front of the net, stiffing McDavid on the power play, then making a save without even seeing the puck after it deflected off of a horizontal Leon Draisaitl in front of the net.
A giveaway by Benoit Pouliot led to Mikkel Boedker's second goal of the game at 2:24 in the second, tapping in the opposite side rebound on a wide open net to give the Sharks a 3-1. Boedker, who had only two goals coming into this game and was in a prolonged slump, ended up getting a hat trick before the game was halfway over, tipping in the shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic at 8:55 for the 4-1 lead.
The defencemen decided to take matters into their own hands in the third period. Just 22 seconds into the third period, Matt Benning got his second NHL goal, which came much easier than the first, with a perfectly placed wrister, made possible by some strong checking from Kassian and Caggiula to force the turnover in the Sharks zone. Oscar Klefbom continued the momentum at 3:45 with a rocket of a shot from just inside the blueline that goes right in with gusto for his seventh of the season, narrowing the gap to 4-3.
Just 1:21 later, however, a misplay on a bouncing puck by Matt Benning in his own zone gave Logan Couture the untimely breakaway that would put the Sharks back up ahead 5-3, and despite a valiant effort by the Oilers in the last 15 minutes of the game, Martin Jones shut the door time and time again to seal the win for his team.
While the last two periods were promising, with the Oilers proving they could indeed keep up with a dominant team like the Sharks, they've risen to a point where a good effort during just two-thirds of the game is satisfactory anymore. A lot of things went right for the Sharks tonight, and the game could have gone the Oilers' way if a few bounces went the other way, but they were not able to recreate the brief momentum they fought to generate and in the end, it was another frustrating loss in a pivotal point of the season.
- The Oilers were physical all night, outhitting the Sharks 20-7, with big bodies Maroon, Kassian, Lucic, Larsson, and even Caggiula all chipping in with three each, and Kris Russell leading the way with four.
- Brent Burns' goal made me burn with envy for a stellar shot like that from one of our d-men. Klefbom gave us hope tonight with his Klefbomb, and Benning's wrister perhaps suggests there's more offensive prowess lurking for the rookie defenceman, who already has nine points on the season. Also worth noting is a beautiful diving play by Klefbom in the last minute and a half to prevent Pavelski from getting the empty-netter.
- Here's Kris Russell's audition tape to become the next Oilers backup goaltender:
- The top line is hard carrying. Patty Maroon led the way with six shots on net, and the three forwards on that line had the highest possession stats on the whole team, McDavid with a +41/-12, Draisaitl with a +40/-12, and Maroon with +36/-13.
- The Oilers were soundly outbattled in the faceoff circle, 63% to 37%. The young players were battered, with Draisaitl finishing at 18%, McDavid at 25%, and Caggiula at 36%.
- Gryba and Eberle, neither of whom had great games, each had three giveaways tonight. I'm ready for Davidson to come back, hopefully after having undergone a shaman ritual for the curse he's been battling.
- I wish Eberle and Nuge would just do something. Eberle had only one shot on net, while Nuge finished with a CF% of 43.9% on a night when the whole team was dominating in that column.
- Ten goals on the last 46 shots faced in the two previous games. Yikes.
Game in a Haiku
San Jose Sharks are
good but they are mostly beards.
All I see are beards.