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Round 1 | Oilers vs. Sharks

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David Desharnais envisioned himself a Game 5 hero

Visualization technique worked for Oilers forward, who scored in overtime against Sharks

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- David Desharnais knows he was brought to the Edmonton Oilers prior to the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline to fill a support role.

That didn't stop him from envisioning himself as a hero in the Oilers' first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006.

The 30-year-old from Laurier-Station, Quebec, made it come true with the overtime winner in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks, lifting the Oilers to a 4-3 victory at Rogers Place on Thursday and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"You always do," Desharnais said after his goal at 18:15 of overtime. "That's the key. [Former NHL player] Daniel Briere once told me that he's always had success in the playoffs and that he visualized himself scoring goals and I did that tonight and I got the goal.

"Everybody can be a hero and you just take one shot… you need to think that way."

 

[RELATED: Complete Oilers vs. Sharks series coverage]

 

Game 6 is at SAP Center in San Jose on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, NBCS-CA, NHL.TV).

Desharnais, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Brandon Davidson, played the final 18 games of the regular season for the Oilers.

He had four points (two goals, two assists) and hadn't scored since March 14.

Late in the regular season, Desharnais' ice time fluctuated between 7:57 and 15:12 and rarely was he part of Edmonton's special teams.

When the Stanley Cup Playoffs began, his role was reduced somewhat to start the series against the Sharks, dropping to center the Oilers' fourth line. His ice time in Game 1 was 6:07.

No matter, Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. Everyone has responsibility.

"When the top two lines are playing each other pretty even, the third and fourth lines have to come through," McLellan said. "He's filling a role for our team, and over the last little bit he has accepted that [role]. And he's become a better player because of that. But you have to have your night. Tonight was his night."

On his fifth shift of the overtime, Desharnais had the puck high in the Sharks zone against tiring opponents. He fed a pass to teammate Leon Draisaitl in the right corner, had a quick look to survey the situation, then jumped down the middle of the ice towards the San Jose net, getting a stride on Sharks forward Tomas Hertl.

Draisaitl led him perfectly with a pass and the puck stayed on Desharnais' stick a fraction of a second before it went high into the net past goalie Martin Jones.

"It feels amazing," Desharnais said. "What an effort tonight for our group. We stuck with it. It's a great feeling."

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm5: Desharnais strikes for OT win

Was he looking for a spot behind Jones?

"Of course not, I didn't have any time," he said. "I just put it down to [Draisaitl] and I saw everybody was tired a bit on the ice and I just jumped in the hole and he made a really good pass and I just tried to shoot it as quick as I could and it went in. So I'm pretty happy."

Desharnais said the Oilers were feeling increasingly confident as the game wore on. They outshot the Sharks 14-2 in overtime.

"We just wanted to stay with it," Desharnais said. "We're eventually going to score a goal. If you're in their zone shooting, they're going to get tired and we did it. We just stuck with it.

"They were tired. We were just all over them. They were icing the puck, they were tired on the ice and we kept shooting and we got the big goal."

Desharnais said there have been highs and lows for him in Edmonton since the trade.

"You come into a new group and a new system and you're away from everybody back home and you still have to worry about everything," he said. "It's playoff time now; I feel a little bit more comfortable but I still need to be better than I was tonight."

Desharnais had his best night of the series with two points in Game 5.

He was a key to Edmonton's game-tying goal by Oscar Klefbom, teeing up a pass that Klefbom stepped into with 2:46 left in regulation.

"Seeing him on the ice, you can really tell he's been in the League for many years," Klefbom said. "He just saves his energy and he's in the right spot all the time.

"To have that patience with the puck … a good example was my goal. Not a lot of guys have the patience to just wait because I came straight from the bench and he was just waiting for me. You could tell he was just laying it up for me. He's very valuable for us."

Klefbom said he was not surprised one of the Oilers bottom-six forwards came through with big plays on Thursday.

"I feel very good for him, especially the way we came back," Klefbom said. "Everybody feels really good right now. Doesn't matter who scored the game-winner. Everybody played a very solid game and everybody came ready from the start."

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