Patrick Marleau scored two goals and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 42 shots in his first start in nearly three weeks, leading the Sharks to a 2-2 tie with Edmonton on Thursday night.
Jason Smith and Ales Hemsky scored for the Oilers, who dominated with creative passing, aggressive skating and hard hits. Ty Conklin stopped 28 shots, making a handful of spectacular saves, but Edmonton failed to convert several late scoring chances while falling to 1-7-1 in its last nine games.
"We played a great game, maybe the best game of the year," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "It's the first game in a long time we had everybody absolutely going. Getting one point ... is discouraging, but at the same time, a lot of guys had their best game of the year."
The Oilers ended up clinging to the draw when the Sharks nearly won it at the buzzer. During a power play, captain Vincent Damphousse flipped a backhand shot toward the crease, where it skittered under Conklin and caromed off the left post an instant before the horn sounded.
With their NHL-leading 10th tie of the season, the Sharks matched the longest home unbeaten streak in franchise history by earning a point in their seventh straight game at the Shark Tank (3-0-4). Edmonton is 0-3-3-1 in San Jose since March 27, 2000.
"We didn't have very much gas in the tank, and they came at us," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "We really dug in, in the third period, to save a point."
Nabokov showed a few signs of rust in his return from a stint on the injured list with a strained groin, but he held on against several fierce Edmonton rushes in the scoreless third period. San Jose was on its heels for much of the night after blowing a third-period lead in a tough loss at Anaheim on Wednesday.
Backup Vesa Toskala went 5-2-1 in Nabokov's absence, backstopping the Sharks' surprising surge into the Pacific Division race. San Jose is 3-3-7-1 at home.
"I think we know we can't let these points slip away like we did last night," Marleau said. "We've got to start taking advantage of being ahead. We've got to carry over the intensity we bring to the first period."
After scoring an early power-play goal, Marleau got his second goal when Ethan Moreau inadvertently swatted the rebound of Marleau's backhand shot past Conklin late in the first period. It was the first two-goal game of the season for Marleau, who got off to a slow start with just three goals in the Sharks' first 14 games.
Moments after Moreau ran over Nabokov in the goalie's crease late in the second period, Hemsky evened the score with a medium-range wrist shot.
"We were outstanding, especially in the second period," said Conklin, who got his 14th start in 15 games after Tommy Salo returned from injury Tuesday night. "We needed a good night where we worked hard and made things happen. We were getting a lot of pucks to the net and creating a lot of traffic."
The Sharks dominated the third period, limiting Edmonton to one shot over the first 14 minutes while peppering Conklin. Still, the Oilers got the best scoring chance -- but Mike York's unobstructed backhand clanged off the crossbar above Nabokov, who was flat on the ice with 41/2 minutes left in regulation.
|PPG - Patrick Marleau (10) ASST: Brad Stuart (10), Marco Sturm (9)|
1 - 0 SJS
|Jason Smith (3) ASST: Brad Isbister (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Patrick Marleau (11) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 SJS
|Ales Hemsky (7) ASST: Jason Smith (8), Mike York (14)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Todd Harvey Hi-sticking against Shawn Horcoff|
|Shawn Horcoff Holding against Mike Ricci|
|Eric Brewer Interference against Marco Sturm|
|Brad Stuart Tripping against Radek Dvorak|
|Alyn McCauley Hi-sticking against Mike York|
|Vincent Damphousse Cross checking against Fernando Pisani|
|Brad Isbister Holding against Jonathan Cheechoo|
|Ethan Moreau Interference on goalkeeper against Evgeni Nabokov|
|Christian Ehrhoff Roughing against Ethan Moreau|
|Scott Ferguson Roughing against Nisse Ekman|
|Nisse Ekman Roughing against Scott Ferguson|
|Brad Isbister Hooking against Nisse Ekman|
|Ryan Smyth Misconduct (10 min)|