The Edmonton Oilers (14-17-2) played host to the traveling San Jose Sharks (17-10-4) on Monday evening at Rogers Place. Neither team is likely thrilled to be where they are at this point in the season, with the Sharks hanging onto a playoff spot like Jarome Iginla is to the NHL dream, and the Oilers doing dirty things to even dirtier people trying to earn anything resembling a point. With mixed results.
The first period began with most of the action in the neutral zone. Neither team was able to create much of note in the opening few minutes, but the home side were first to gain the initiative when Kevin Labanc took a stick-swing at Oscar Klefbom's beautiful face. It was probably accidental but if we're being honest it looked like jealousy. How many Swedish magazine covers has fucking Kevin Labanc been on, is my point!?
Anyway the Oilers powerplay is like if you took last year's Oilers powerplay and then ruined it, so obviously nothing came from the man advantage.
But don't fret, Sharks fan. I'm talking to you. The one of you. Don't fret! The Oilers, likely in a statement against the War on Christmas, were really into the spirit of giving, and donated a powerplay to their guests courtesy of a Nathan Walker brain fart. Who is Nathan Walker, you ask? Good question.
Unfortunately for our heroes, the San Jose Sharks definitely remembered their first powerplay. You could really tell because they looked as if they had a plan to use the man advantage to their advantage, man. And use the man advantage to their advantage, man they did, with Joe Pavelski capitalizing on a rebound like a dirty capitalist. I bet he doesn't even care how you pay for your medicine, you peasant.
Roughly halfway through the first period, the shots were even at 4-4.
A few minutes later, after some uneventful action, the Oilers found themselves on the powerplay again after Thomas Hertl forgot how the rules work. The Oilers started to gain some momentum over the course of the two minutes, and scored two seconds after the powerplay expired. A cross-seam feed from Leon Draisaitl found Mark Letestu on the left to wire home past Martin Jones.
The Oilers continued to assert themselves as the first period wound down, and were rewarded through Ryan Strome, who scored the 10,000th goal in franchise history with just over a minute remaining. An excellent feed by Leon Draisaitl after some good work down low by Jujhar Khaira saw Strome wide open on the port side with nothing to do but tap it in. 2-1 good guys.
The shots were 8-6 for the Oilers after one.
The Sharks, likely feeling emasculated after being exposed to actual, grown up, 'I'm-a-professional-man' beards (sup JJ?!) and losing their lead late in the first period, came out with some initiative to start the second. The Oilers spent the bulk of the first five minutes on the back foot before finally storming back.
Three dangerous sequences in roughly a minute. The first two orchestrated by Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi, and the third by Drake Caggiula and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, which happened to result in a goal. Caggiula made an excellent chip pass into space on the right side for Nugent-Hopkins, before our very own Spelling Bee champ lasered a pass back toward Caggiula that ricocheted in to extend the Oilers lead.
Now, true to form, the Oilers tend to hate it when we, as fans of them, get nice things. So just over a minute later, the Sharks clawed one back with Tomas Hertl getting one past Cam Talbot. 3-2.
The Oilers responded well after the goal, however, with the home side not content to simply sit back and defend their lead. McDavid's line was buzzing again but failed to really test Jones. This push was short-lived, unfortunately, with local Cowboy Kris Russell given a penalty for holding Joe Thornton, when I think it was painfully obvious he was just hoping for an autograph. He didn't even have his stick for god's sake.
Thankfully, the Oilers were able to avoid having to kill the full two minutes, with Joe Pavelski taking a penalty for allowing Leon Draisaitl to fall over himself. But Ryan Strome wasn't having it. The Oilers' PK has rightly been pointed to as a cause for concern this year, but we have to remember that it can't get better without the opportunity to do so. So with that in mind let's actually commend, rather than denigrate, the young man for his big-picture thinking when he took a tripping penalty almost immediately to give the Sharks almost a full minute of 4-on-3 powerplay time. Is there a different, better Strome?! Asking for a friend. And I guess I'm also genuinely curious.
The Oilers were able to survive the man advantage, and the rest of the second period without any further setbacks. The Sharks were there too. The Oilers carried their lead 3-2 into the break, and enjoyed a healthy 19-13 lead on the shot clock.
Neither side came out with much impetus to start the third, with nothing of note to report over the first couple of minutes. The first genuine chance of the period fell to the Oilers, with Nugent-Hopkins just missing Patrick Maroon in front of the Sharks' net.
A minute or so later, a nice shift by the Draisaitl line saw Ryan Strome go close for his second of the night from a juicy rebound.
The Sharks were able to test Talbot shortly thereafter, with the Oilers' starter standing tall and making an excellent save on a tricky delivery. The netminder was called upon again shortly to make a backdoor save on Marc-Edouard Vlasic after a through pass found him on the back post.
The Sharks began to assert control over procedings midway through the third period, with Kevin Labanc tipping one onto the left post.
Not long after, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins forced a turnover just outside the Sharks' blueline. The puck found Patrick Maroon who proceeded to step into one and restore the Oilers' lead back to two. 4-2 good guys. Almost immediately after, Cam Talbot tried to give the Sharks another one by banking his clearing attempt back into his own net. But, like most Oilers, he's been having a cold shooting year. Really fighting his percentages. It'll come though.
With just over 8 minutes to play, the Sharks managed to get their third anyway. A broken play off the rush saw the loose puck find Marcus Sorensen, who promptly tucked home on the backhand side. We're not out of the woods yet.
Though, in fairness to the Oilers, they calmed the game down and played relatively capably in defense of their lead. There were, of course, some squeaky bum moments - especially in the final minute - but Ryan Strome managed to score an empty net goal from inside his own blue line to seal it. 5-3. Oilers win! Oilers win!
The Oilers were the better team for most of tonight and the San Jose Sharks should feel bad about that.
Point at the Losers!
That's what I meant by Loser Point this whole time!
Up next, the Oilers play host to the St Louis Blues on Thursday night.