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Marleau's goal lifts Sharks past Oilers

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- To the San Jose Sharks, no opponents have been scarier during their stretch run than the ones that won't be joining them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Going into their game Tuesday night against the struggling Edmonton Oilers, the Sharks had already lost to the Buffalo Sables, Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets, Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames.

This time, the Sharks survived a huge scare from the Oilers and barely escaped with a 5-4 victory at SAP Center that boosted their hopes of winning the Pacific Division.

San Jose increased its total to 105 points, one behind the first-place Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific. The Sharks have five regular-season games; the Ducks have seven, including one against the Oilers at home on Wednesday, and own the tiebreaker.

The Sharks blew a 3-1 lead and had to come from behind in the third period.

"It's a bittersweet win," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It was nice to see us come back and score five, and the power play contributed. Those types of things are nice, but I'm going to leave the rink a little more frustrated than excited. I'm sure some of our players will leave that way too. Back to work tomorrow. Try to get everything straightened out.

"I still think our team looks lethargic. Not as much physically but mentally. Some of the coverages that we're supposed to have, the face-off execution, picking up the right people. We're there but we're not really getting it done. I think this week's important for us. We'll get a little bit of practice time, some opportunities to rest and then get ready again. Right now we're still in a fight, which I think is good for us, to stay focused and have that battling mentality. Some of that slipped over the last little bit but we've got to get it back."

Patrick Marleau scored the game-winning power-play goal with 7:29 left in regulation. Andrew Desjardins, Dan Boyle, Tommy Wingels and Brent Burns also scored for the Sharks.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored two goals for Edmonton, while Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle each scored one. The threesome combined for 10 points.

With David Perron in the penalty box for tripping Sharks defenseman Justin Braun, Marleau got to a loose puck in the right circle and beat goaltender Ben Scrivens for his 32nd goal of the season. Burns nearly fanned on a shot from the point, but the puck bounced off a pair of Oilers and hit Sharks forward Joe Pavelski's skate. Marleau put the puck in an open net, putting San Jose ahead 5-4.

"Coming down that back side looking for any scraps," Marleau said.

Edmonton (26-41-9), coming off a 5-0 loss at home against the New York Rangers on Sunday, lost for the fifth time in its past six games. The Oilers killed six penalties but gave up the game-winner on San Jose's seventh power play.

"Seven kills is too many against a team like that," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I know their power play isn't ranked super-high but that doesn't really matter. They have so much skill that at any time they can capitalize. We knew coming in we couldn't take penalties but for whatever reason, a couple that we probably shouldn't have taken and it comes back to bite us."

The Sharks led 2-1 after the first period and increased their lead to 3-1 at 2:45 of the second period when Wingels scored, snapping a 10-game goal drought. Wingels deflected a shot by defenseman Brad Stuart, then poked the loose puck past Scrivens.

But Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle answered with back-to-back goals in the second as the Oilers pulled even at 3-3.

"The intensity probably dropped a little bit," Boyle said. "We're up 3-1 on a team that's not in the playoffs. Sometimes you take your foot off the gas a little bit. We fought hard to battle back."

Nugent-Hopkins launched a laser from the right circle that snuck inside the right post, beating Antti Niemi without the benefit of any traffic in front of the crease as Edmonton cut San Jose's lead to 3-2 at 13:04. Eberle tied it 38 seconds later with his 25th goal of the season. He ripped a shot from the right circle that appeared to ricochet off Braun and into the net. Nugent-Hopkins, who had gone hard to the net, was initially credited with the goal, but it was changed to Eberle's.

Nugent-Hopkins put the Oilers ahead 4-3 at 6:16 of the third period with his 18th goal of the season, spinning and firing a shot from the left circle that beat Niemi to the stick side. But Burns took a pass from Joe Thornton and scored from just left of the crease at 10:35, making it 4-4.

"We're happy with the two [points], but we've got to tighten up for the postseason," Thornton said. "We've got five left and you want to be playing well before the postseason. Our goal is to win all five and see where it goes."

Oilers coach Dallas Eakins liked much but not all of what he saw from his young team.

"We battled extremely hard," Eakins said. "In my recent memory I can't remember a game where we were supporting and fighting and battling [like we did]. I liked our compete level. I thought we had lots of sacrifices. The bad part is that you can't take seven penalties against a team like that, especially in the third after we've battled back from a deficit. You just can't take those penalties. To take seven penalties, you're going to get in trouble."

The Sharks' fourth line produced an early goal as Desjardins scored 3:38 into the game.

Defenseman Jason Demers forced a turnover along the boards and got the puck to Tyler Kennedy, who fired a shot from the right circle. Scrivens stopped that blast, but Desjardins put the rebound past him from close range for his third goal of the season.

Edmonton pulled even at 12:34 of the first on Hall's power-play goal with Boyle in the box for roughing Matt Hendricks. Nugent-Hopkins met little resistance as he built up speed and brought the puck into San Jose's zone on a rush. Nugent-Hopkins zipped a pass to Hall in the left circle, and Hall wristed a shot that beat Niemi to the far side.

The Sharks moved back ahead 2-1 on Boyle's 11th goal of the season at 15:54 with the teams skating 4 on 4. Thornton won a faceoff and passed to puck to Boyle in the slot. Boyle elevated a shot that got past Scrivens and inside the left post.

Boyle extended his goal streak to three games after going 29 games without a goal. He has a five-game point streak.

Boyle will try to extend those streaks Thursday night when the Los Angeles Kings come to San Jose. It could be a warm-up for a first-round playoff series if the Sharks can't overtake the Ducks.

"Coming down the stretch with the playoffs coming we can't give up four goals and expect to win hockey games," Boyle said.

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