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At the Rink: Sharks at Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks decided not to skate Sunday morning prior to their first game against each another this season.

The Sharks took the morning off after defeating the Calgary Flames 3-2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

Despite having three days between games, the Oilers decided to follow suit.

"I figured they weren't skating so why should we? It's one thing you battle with as a coach all the time in a pro league," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "When you come to practice and have no points on the line that day, you're just coming to the rink to get better, you only bring them to the rink once. But on game days where everything is on the line and you need them to be fresh, you bring them twice for some reason.

"So thought we would just change the routine and keep them away from the rink and let them get some extra rest. They've had a couple of big days of practice as well."

The Oilers have not played since losing 3-2 in overtime at the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. Edmonton is on an 11-game losing streak and are winless against Western Conference opponents this season (0-12-4).

Keeping players from answering questions on the losing streak was another reason the Oilers decided not to take part in a morning skate.

"This never seems to just go away, we can't just deal with it in one or two days, we still want to wallow in what happened [Wednesday]," Eakins said. "I just wanted our guys to concentrate on San Jose and the game, that was it."

Goaltender Ben Scrivens will start for the Oilers; Alex Stalock will make his first start for the Sharks since sustaining a knee injury on Nov. 8 against the Dallas Stars.

Sharks right wing Tyler Kennedy will not play after sustaining an arm injury in Calgary.

San Jose is seeking its fifth straight win.

"They're going to turn up the heat, they're an excellent hockey team," Eakins said. "I know their record isn't where they would like it to be, but this is an extremely dangerous team and a team that had a little bit of bad luck so far. And as the season goes on, I'm sure you're going to see them start to rise again."

Here are the projected lineups:


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels

Tyler McGinn - James Sheppard - Barclay Goodrow

Mike Brown - Andrew Desjardins - John Scott

Justin Braun - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Brent Burns - Brenden Dillon

Scott Hannan - Mirco Mueller

Alex Stalock

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Matt Irwin

Injured: Troy Grosenick (upper body), Raffi Torres (knee), Matt Nieto (lower body), Tyler Kennedy (arm)


Taylor HallRyan Nugent-HopkinsTyler Pitlick

Nail YakupovLeon DraisaitlJordan Eberle

David PerronBoyd GordonTeddy Purcell

Luke GazdicMark Arcobello – Steve Pinizzotto

Andrew FerenceJustin Schultz

Oscar KlefbomJeff Petry

Keith AulieMark Fayne

Ben Scrivens

Viktor Fasth

Scratched: Jesse Joensuu

Injured: Benoit Pouliot (foot), Matt Hendricks (leg), Nikita Nikitin (back).

Status report: This is the first game of a home-and-home series. Edmonton travels to play the Sharks on Tuesday. Hendricks did not practice with the Oilers on Saturday and is still recovering from blocking a shot against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 27. Joensuu was placed on waivers last week, but was not assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL and is back on the Oilers roster.

Who's hot: Wingels has three goals and six assists in his past four games. Marleau is on a four-game point streak, with a goal and five assists. Hall has four assists in his past three games.

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