SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- It might have been the Edmonton Oilers' best
performance of the season, and it still wasn't good enough to beat the San Jose
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
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
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
"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.