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5 Keys: Oilers at Sharks, Game 6

San Jose confident it can avoid elimination; Edmonton trying for first series win since 2006

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent


10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCSCA

Edmonton leads best-of-7 series 3-2

SAN JOSE -- The Edmonton Oilers can win a Stanley Cup Playoff series for the first time since 2006 with a victory against the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round at SAP Center on Saturday.

Edmonton took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series with a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5 at Rogers Place on Thursday.

Here are 5 keys for Game 6:


1. Elimination-game desperation

The Sharks are facing playoff elimination for the first time since Game 6 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 12 at SAP Center. San Jose lost that game 3-1, but the Sharks won two earlier elimination games, defeating the Nashville Predators 5-0 in Game 7 of their Western Conference Second Round series at home and winning 4-2 at Pittsburgh in Game 5 of the Final.

"It's different," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of elimination games. "There's no doubt. There's no hiding from that. You lose, you go home. We've been here before. We know how to handle it, and I think we're confident we're going to show up with a real good game tonight."


2. Killer instinct

The Oilers dominated the Sharks in the third period and overtime in Game 5 at home. Now they have a chance to close out the series at SAP Center, where they lost 7-0 in Game 4.

"The fourth win is always the toughest one to get," Edmonton forward Milan Lucic said. "We put ourselves in a position to be up in a series going into a game like this, so you want to do what you can to bring your best game and make the most of that position.

"We know they're going to bring their best, so if we want to come out winners tonight, we'd better bring our best. We learned our lesson, I think, in Game 4 being comfortable with a series lead. Hopefully, we don't have to learn another lesson tonight."


3. Special-teams battle

After allowing four power-play goals on eight chances in Game 4, the Oilers took one penalty and killed it in Game 5. Edmonton gave the San Jose six power plays in each of the first two games, and the Oilers know they can't afford another parade to the penalty box.

"Staying disciplined, playing smart, being hard but smart," Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. "We've shown what happens when you take a bunch of penalties. The result's not good for us."

Center Logan Couture said the Sharks have to force the Oilers into taking more penalties.

"I think if we play in the offensive zone like we have a lot this series, we'll draw penalties," Couture said. "I don't think we did that enough last game."


4. Joonas Donskoi's return

Forward Joonas Donskoi, who scored six goals, including two-game winners, in the 2016 playoffs, will return to the lineup for the Sharks after being scratched in Game 5. He will replace rookie Timo Meier.

"We went with our most experienced lineup here tonight," DeBoer said. "He's been here before, he's delivered for us before. He's typically always bounced back after being sat down or demoted, and I expect a big game out of him."

Donskoi has one assist in four playoff games.


5. Faceoffs

The Sharks have won 52.1 percent of the faceoffs in the series, but the Oilers had a big edge in Game 5, winning 41 of 69 (59.4 percent).

"They obviously concentrated on it," DeBoer said. "That was a compete area I thought we got beat in. This is all about details at this time of year. That leads into possession, into matchups, into who's starting with the puck [and] leads to forecheck. Everything ties together. It's an important piece that we got to get corrected."


Oilers projected lineup

Drake Caggiula -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

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

Patrick Maroon -- Mark Letestu -- Zack Kassian

Benoit Pouliot -- David Desharnais -- Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Darnell Nurse -- Matt Benning

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Iiro Pakarinen, Eric Gryba, Matt Hendricks, Jujhar Khaira, Griffin Reinhart, Jordan Oesterle, Mark Fayne, Anton Lander, Joey Laleggia

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (knee)


Sharks projected lineup

Patrick Marleau -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Jannik Hansen -- Logan Couture -- Joel Ward

Melker Karlsson -- Tomas Hertl -- Joonas Donskoi

Marcus Sorensen -- Chris Tierney -- Mikkel Boedker

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- David Schlemko

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo, Micheal Haley, Timo Meier

Injured: None


Status report

Based on line rushes at the morning skate, the Oilers will stick with the same lines from Game 5, with Caggiula on the top line and Maroon on the third. ... The Sharks had an optional skate, so it's unclear which line Donskoi will be on or whether DeBoer will shuffle his lines again, as he did in Game 4.


Who's hot

Desharnais scored in overtime and set up the tying goal in the third period in Game 5. Draisaitl had two assists in Game 5. Talbot has two shutouts and a 2.24 goals-against average. ... Schlemko has three points in his past two games (two goals, one assist). Marleau has three points (two goals, one assist) in his past two games. Ward has three assists in his past two games. Jones has 1.69 GAA and one shutout.

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