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Preview: Oilers at Sharks

Edmonton, San Jose battle for positioning in Pacific Division

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

OILERS (44-26-9) at SHARKS (45-28-7)

10:30 p.m. ET; SNW, NBCS CA, NHL.TV

 

Oilers team scope

The Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks are tied for second place in the Pacific Division and trail the first-place Anaheim Ducks by four. The Oilers have three games remaining; the Sharks and Ducks each have two. The Oilers and Sharks likely will play each other in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "You want to win this game," captain Connor McDavid said. "Home-ice advantage is a big deal, and we want to take that. This is almost like a little Game 1 here." The Oilers are 2-1-1 against the Sharks and have won the past two games, including a 3-2 victory at Rogers Place on March 30. "It's a potential opponent in the playoffs, so we got to scare them a little bit," defenseman Oscar Klefbom said. "We've got to come out hard." Edmonton had won five straight games before a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Tuesday. "We'd like to improve our play heading into the playoffs, and I don't think we took that step the other night in Los Angeles," coach Todd McLellan said. "We have to respond with a better effort." Cam Talbot, whose 71 games lead NHL goalies, will make his fifth straight start. He has 40 wins and would break a tie with Grant Fuhr (1987-88) for most in a season by an Oilers goalie.

 

Sharks team scope

Joe Thornton (left knee) and Logan Couture (teeth), the top two centers for the Sharks, each skated for a second straight day but won't be in the lineup. Thornton will miss his second straight game, Couture his sixth, and coach Peter DeBoer said each remains day to day. Forward Jannik Hansen said he expects to play Edmonton in the first round. "If they win tonight, they got home ice pretty much locked up," Hansen said. "Of course it's a big game. It's probably going to end up being this team we play. You want to set the tone early, you want to feel good about yourself, you want to put some thoughts in their head, not good ones. It's going to be not a seven-game series, an eight-game series now probably." Goaltender Martin Jones will make his seventh straight start. The Sharks have won two straight games but are 3-8-0 in their past 11. "We want to beat a good team," DeBoer said. "You're always planting seeds for the playoffs when you're playing teams you potentially might play."

 

Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot -- David Desharnais -- Zack Kassian

Drake Caggiula -- Mark Letestu -- Iiro Pakarinen

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Darnell Nurse -- Matt Benning

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Matt Hendricks, Eric Gryba, Anton Slepyshev

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (knee)

 

Sharks projected lineup

Melker Karlsson -- Joe Pavelski -- Kevin Labanc

Joonas Donskoi -- Patrick Marleau -- Joel Ward

Jannik Hansen -- Tomas Hertl -- Mikkel Boedker

Micheal Haley -- Chris Tierney -- Marcus Sorensen

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- David Schlemko

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo, Timo Meier

Injured: Logan Couture (teeth), Joe Thornton (knee)

 

Status report

Pakarinen likely will replace Slepyshev on the fourth line. ... Haley was off the ice early and likely will return to the lineup and replace Meier on the fourth line. ... Pavelski is expected to play center on the top line for a second straight game in place of Thornton.

 

Who's hot

McDavid, whose 95 points lead the NHL, has an 11-game point streak (six goals, 14 assists). ... Draisaitl has an 11-game point streak (five goals, 14 assists). ... Tierney has three goals in his past five games.

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