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At the Rink: Sharks at Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Three players will be making their NHL debuts at Rexall Place on Thursday when the Edmonton Oilers host the San Jose Sharks (9:30 p.m. ET; SN360, CSN-CA PLUS).

Oilers goaltender Laurent Brossoit will get his first NHL start and forward Curtis Hamilton will also be in the lineup.

Sharks forward Bryan Lerg, 29, will play his first NHL game after 353 minor-league games.

Edmonton (24-43-13) and San Jose (39-32-9) are each out of contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I'm ready to roll," Lerg said. "[Edmonton] is the team I signed with out of college as a free agent. I did training camp here and then I was down in [the American Hockey League]. I played a preseason game in this building against Calgary. I've been here once before, which is nice, and I'm really excited to play tonight."

Lerg signed with the Oilers after graduating from Michigan State University in 2008 and spent two years in the organization.

"It's been a very long road, but you have to keep positive and stick with it," Lerg said. "I fought some injuries in the last few years, but you just have to keep positive, that's the main thing. A lot of it is mental and you have to just stick to the grind, keep doing the right thing. I'm a firm believer that if you keep doing the right things, eventually you will be rewarded."

Brossoit, 22, is also familiar with Rexall Place. He played three seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, backstopping them to a Memorial Cup appearance in 2013.

"It feels good to get the start tonight, it's obviously not something I've done before, so there are a lot of new emotions and I'm just excited," Brossoit said. "Coming into a situation like this, this can be pretty intimidating for anyone going into their first start, but familiar territory with the building, the room, the guys, it definitely makes it a lot easier."

Brossoit is 22-21-4 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .916 save percentage for Oklahoma City of the AHL. He has started the past 25 games for the Barons.

"It's a lot of games, but at the same time, it's something that I am used to," Brossoit said. "I played a lot in junior with the Oil Kings so it wasn't something that was completely new."

Hamilton, 23, was selected by the Oilers with the 48th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. He has 12 goals and 17 assists in 60 games with the Barons this season.

"I'm really looking forward to this, it's a good opportunity for me here, I'm familiar with a lot of guys in this room," Hamilton said. "It makes it a bit more comfortable for me, which is nice."

The Oilers will miss the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season and conclude their regular season at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

San Jose will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002-2003. The Sharks were officially eliminated from contention Monday.

"For our organization this is a different feeling," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We've been there a lot of years in a row, and we're not there now. We're trying to figure out how to behave the last few days. We want to play well, we want to come here and win. But the feeling is certainly different and it's not something we're accustomed to."

Goaltender Antti Niemi will start for San Jose.

Here are the projected lineups:


Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan CoutureTomas Hertl

Matt Nieto - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

John Scott - Ben Smith - Bryan Lerg

Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun

Karl Stollery - Brent Burns

Matt Irwin - Taylor Fedun

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Mike Brown

Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Mirco Mueller (left hand), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body), Scott Hannan (head)


Benoit PouliotTaylor Hall - Jordan Eberle

Teddy Purcell - Derek RoyNail Yakupov

Matt FraserAnton LanderTyler Pitlick

Curtis HamiltonRob Klinkhammer - Luke Gazdic

Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz

Martin MarincinDavid Musil

Keith AulieBrandon Davidson

Laurent Brossoit

Ben Scrivens

Scratched: None

Injured: Viktor Fasth (knee), Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Andrew Ference (upper body), Mark Fayne (shoulder), Boyd Gordon (back), Nikita Nikitin (foot), Matt Hendricks (lower body), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (foot)

Status report: Nugent-Hopkins is not likely to return before the end of season. … Oilers goaltender Richard Bachman was reassigned to Oklahoma City on Monday to make room for Brossoit. … Sharks forward Barclay Goodrow was reassigned to Worcester of the AHL to make room for Lerg.

Who's hot: Thornton has two goals in his past two games … Tierney has two goals and three assists in his past five games … Lander has three assists in his past three games.

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