EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games in the Western Conference First Round series after qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
With the exception of a 7-0 loss in Game 4, Edmonton was able to limit San Jose offensively and managed to get timely goals from different players throughout their lineup. Center Connor McDavid had four points (two goals, two assist), but was not the focal point offensively for the Oilers.
Here are 5 reasons the Oilers advanced to the second round:
1. GOALTENDING OF CAM TALBOT
In his first playoff series as a starting goaltender (he had two relief appearances with the New York Rangers in 2014), Talbot was excellent -- with the exception of Game 4, when he allowed five goals on 24 shots and was pulled. Talbot had shutouts in Game 2 and Game 3 and rebounded with a strong performance in Game 5, making 27 saves in a 4-3 overtime win that gave Edmonton a 3-2 series lead. Talbot was at his best in Game 5 when the Oilers trailed 3-1, making a number of excellent saves to keep the Oilers in the game before they rallied to win.
Video: EDM@SJS, Gm6: Talbot denies Karlsson with blocker
2. GETTING PHYSICAL
The Oilers were physical, wearing down the older, more veteran Sharks. After losing 3-2 in overtime in Game 1, the Oilers outhit the Sharks 41-21 in Game 2, led by forward Zack Kassian (six). Kassian also scored the winning goal on a shorthanded breakaway 42 seconds into the second period, giving the Oilers their first playoff win since Game 6 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. "My linemates played well," Kassian said. "As a line, we got a lot of energy, and if we're going to win this series, we're going to need all lines going, different guys stepping up every night."
[RELATED: Complete Oilers-Sharks series coverage]
3. SHORT MEMORY
The Oilers' ability to put the lopsided Game 4 loss behind them appeared to be a turning point in the series. San Jose's vastly more playoff-experienced team seem to find its stride after being shutout in the two previous games. However, the Oilers fought back after trailing 3-1 in Game 5 before David Desharnais scored in overtime to give Edmonton a 3-2 series lead. "Our group believes," coach Todd McLellan said. "We know how bad we played in Game 4, but we were able to park it, and start again, make amends."
Video: SJS@EDM, Gm5: Desharnais strikes for OT win
4. LIMITING SAN JOSE'S PLAYMAKERS
The Oilers took advantage of Sharks centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture not being completely healthy in the series. San Jose began the series without Thornton, who sustained a knee injury at the Vancouver Canucks on April 2 and missed the last three games of the regular season. Couture missed the final seven games of the regular season after being hit in the face with a shot in a game at the Nashville Predators on March 25. Couture returned for the start of the series against the Oilers but was not a factor in the first three games. Thornton returned for Game 3 and was limited to two assists in four games.
Captain Joe Pavelski had four points (two goals, two assists) and defenseman Brent Burns had three assists in the series.
5. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY
The Oilers did not let their lack of playoff experience become a factor, and they weren't overwhelmed by the intensity. Edmonton started undisciplined and gave San Jose 12 power-play opportunities in the first two games, but settled down and did a much better job staying out of the penalty box in the final two games of the series, taking four minor penalties.