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Improving Oilers to receive test from Sharks

by Adam Kimelman /
OILERS (12-14-5) at SHARKS (17-11-5)


Last 10 --
Edmonton 6-3-1; San Jose 6-3-1

Season series -- This is the third of four games between the teams this season, with the Sharks winning the first two, both in Edmonton. On Oct. 23, Joe Pavelski had a goal and 2 assists to lead the Sharks to a 6-1 win, and on Nov. 27, Dany Heatley scored twice to lead the Sharks, 4-3.

Big Story -- The Sharks' two-game win streak has pushed them to sixth in the Western Conference, and with three home games this week, they could climb even higher. The Oilers have won six of their last 10, but this will be a major test for them.

Team Scope:

Oilers -- Edmonton's best line in Thursday's 6-3 win against the Blue Jackets was Ryan O'Marra centering Swedish rookies Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark. Omark had a goal and 2 assists, Paajarvi had a goal and an assist and O'Marra had an assist and won 6 of 14 faceoffs.

That trio likely will stay together for Tuesday's game against the Sharks.

"Ryan is the stabilizing factor," associate coach Ralph Krueger told the Edmonton Journal. "He could see when they were creating pressure up front and was really strong in backing that up. That should get even better with time."

Sharks --
Despite being stocked with well-known, All-Star caliber scorers, it's rookie Logan Couture who leads the team with 17 goals, three more than Dany Heatley.

He had two more goals in Saturday's 4-1 win against the Blues.

"You kind of expect a lapse at some point, but his consistency is there," linemate Ryane Clowe told the San Jose Mercury News. "I don't want to jinx anything, but for a young guy, we pretty much know what we're going to get from him every night."

Who's Hot -- Joe Pavelski has back-to-back 2-assist games for the Sharks, and he's been a plus-2 in each of the last two games. … Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney leads the team in scoring with 24 points -- all assists. He has 3 assists and a plus-5 rating in the last two games.

Injury Report --
Oilers forwards Ales Hemsky (groin) and Shawn Horcoff (knee) are on injured reserve. Defenseman Jim Vandermeer has an ankle injury and is doubtful for Tuesday. … Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray is questionable for Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury.

Stat Pack -- The Sharks have won two in a row five times this season, but only once have they pushed that streak to three straight.

Puck Drop -- One of the reason for the Sharks' strong play the last two games could be the return of forward Devin Setoguchi, who had missed nine games with an upper-body injury. He had 2 goals in his first game, last Thursday against Dallas, and had another goal Saturday against St. Louis -- both Sharks victories.

"I had so much time to sit back and get so much rest and get better," Setoguchi told the team's website. "You get all excited to get back to the lineup, to make a difference and get back on the right track. It felt good and hopefully we can keep going in the same way."

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