The Edmonton Oilers (24-25-5) welcomed the San Jose Sharks (32-16-7) to Rogers Place for an early Saturday night game as part of Hockey Day in Canada.
Suffice to say, this is a tale of two very different teams. The Sharks have been mostly great and at, or near, the top of both the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings for most of the season. Tonight they’d be without perhaps the best rearguard of his generation in Erik Karlsson, but still contain a healthy enough mix of high-end talent and depth to pose the Oilers a real problem. And, oh yes, those Oilers. Fresh off their longest win streak in seven games, the Oilers had to be feeling better after a competent win in Minnesota. Even if Cam Talbot had to steer aside over 30 shots, everyone will take a road win against the Wild, every time. Arrows up.
Even the uppest of arrows bows to the whims of gravity. The Oilers either forgot or expelled any momentum they might have accumulated in the Midwest almost immediately, as they started this one at least a half step behind their opponents.
San Jose was moving the puck and the...mselves at a level their hosts simply couldn’t compete with, and before too long the visitors’ pressure would tell. Kevin Labanc scored his 7th of the season just over halfway through the first period.
Any notions of a brisk push back from the hosts would be put to rest as Evander Kane was ‘Evander on the Spot’ as he coasted beyond a disinterested Leon Draisaitl en route to the easy finish. Seriously, they don’t come much easier at this level.
2-0 after one and the Sharks were vastly superior by every measure.
Edmonton began the second period slightly better than they played at any point in the first period and that might have been encouraging if we didn’t already know how this story ends.
Just over eight minutes in, Labanc scored his second of the season - and eighth of the year - on a Sharks PP, effectively ending the game.
But then, the Oilers managed to do what they do best: generate enough offense in a game that’s already over to mask an otherwise awful showing against a better team.
They managed to scrape back into the contest just enough to keep those of us who were still awake interested. A few more attempts meant a few more shots meant a few more chances and yes, indeed, they managed to find their way into the game with a goal of their own.
Our very own hero with no cape Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was in the left slot at the right time and buried the loose puck on an Oilers power play.
The rest of the period played scoreless with the Oilers influence trending up, even if only slightly.
The Sharks took less than two minutes to extend their lead in the final frame. Labanc again, completing his first career hat trick. It feels like that happens all the time. How many players wouldn’t have NHL hat tricks if they didn’t get a chance to play the Oilers?!
Just over two minutes after that, Tomas Hertl walked into the slot and beat Cam Talbot over his right shoulder. 5-1 San Jose. Cue the jersey toss.
(I don’t think anyone tossed their jersey tonight.)
Zack Kassian found a consolation marker for the Oilers later on in the period but I’ll be honest after the fifth goal this game became the background noise to my cleaning the kitchen. The Oilers are lucky they got that. It’s pretty arrogant of them to be worried about season suite renewals when THAT is the best they can do four years into McDavid’s contract AFTER dealing a superstar.
What else is there? It’s not actually fun to say the team sucks and certain guys played bad or whatever. There’s no joy in it. I’d much rather talk about how everything is awesome, like that one Lego Movie song.
Anyone want to go in on an Arby’s franchise with me?
The Oilers get the Pittsburgh Penguins (28-20-7) on Wednesday.