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Huge first period carries Sharks past Oilers

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

The San Jose Sharks are heading back to the Bay Area for their home opener after spoiling the Edmonton Oilers' first appearance at Rexall Place this season.

The Sharks completed only the second Alberta sweep in franchise history by scoring six goals in the first period for the first time ever and cruising to a 6-3 victory on Tuesday night.

Edmonton came home after rallying for a 3-2 shootout win at Vancouver on Sunday, and with one of the NHL's deepest groups of young talent -- including the last three No. 1 overall picks -- Oilers fans have visions of ending a playoff drought that dates to 2006.

Instead, they watched the Oilers allow six goals in a period, one short of the franchise record of seven at Boston on Jan. 17, 1980, the franchise's first season in the NHL. The lone bright spots were the first NHL goals for prized rookies Nail Yakupov, the first player taken in the 2012 NHL Draft, and defenseman Justin Schultz.

"There was a lot of talk about them skating and taking the pace and tempo to us, and we wanted to turn the tables on them a bit," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

It was a tough home debut for new coach Ralph Krueger, though he tried to look at the bright side.

"Sometimes it's better to lose like this than lose by a goal," he said. "We certainly see what we need to improve."

The Sharks will take a 2-0-0 record back to HP Pavilion for their home opener against Phoenix on Thursday after matching the franchise record for goals in any period and scoring six goals in a period during a road game for the first time in franchise history.

San Jose took advantage of early penalty trouble by the Oilers to score two power-play goals in a 73-second span. Dan Boyle connected at 3:17 during a 5-on-3 advantage and Logan Couture got the first of his two goals, beating Devan Dubnyk with a wrist shot at 5:30 with the Sharks playing 5-on-4.

Yakupov drew cheers when he beat Antti Niemi during a power play at 8:25 for his first NHL goal, but the Sharks responded quickly and blew the game wide open.

Patrick Marleau, who had a pair of goals in Sunday's 4-1 win at Calgary, made it 3-1 at 10:02 when he finished off a passout by Joe Thornton, then scored the Sharks' third power-play goal of the period 65 seconds later, a wrister from between the hash marks, off the third assist of the period by Thornton.

Couture put in a rebound at 18:09, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic capped the period by blasting a slap shot past Dubnyk at 19:20, giving the Sharks six goals on 17 shots and bringing on Yann Danis in place of Dubnyk to start the second period.

"It was a complete meltdown thru every single player, from Devan thru every single player," Krueger said. "An unbelievable lack of positioning ... too much hunger to put on a show for our crowd."

It was also a complete reversal for the Sharks from the first period in Calgary two nights earlier, when they were badly outplayed by the Flames before regrouping for the win.

"After the last game -- we had a terrible first period, so we wanted to come out strong," Couture said. "We did. We scored some goals. We played in their end. It was a complete reversal of the first game. We kind of let up in the second and third [periods], but we built ourselves a good enough lead."

Perhaps sparked by the goaltending change, the Oilers outshot the Sharks 17-9 in the second period. But they managed to score only once, when Schultz -- their star rookie defenseman -- stepped into a one-timer from just inside the right circle and beat Niemi cleanly at 14:25 during a 5-on-3 power play.

"We apologize to [the fans] for the overall score," Krueger said, "but they get to see Nail and Justin get their first goals."

Taylor Hall made it a three-goal game 3:34 into the third period when he finished a give-and-go with Jordan Eberle by using Sharks defenseman Justin Braun as a screen and beating Niemi with a rocket of a 20-foot wrister from the slot. But the Oilers managed only four other shots in the period against Niemi, who finished with 26 saves.

"I don't think we played the last 40 [minutes] the way we wanted to," McLellan said. "We're still a work in progress."

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