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McLellan faces Sharks for first time as Oilers coach

by Derek Van Diest

SHARKS (14-13-0) at OILERS (11-15-2)


EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers know the game against the San Jose Sharks at Rexall Place on Wednesday is an important one not only in the standings, but also to their coach.

Todd McLellan spent seven seasons in San Jose before coming to Edmonton last offseason, and he is facing his former team for the first time.

"We'll be trying to get this win for Todd," Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson said. "We'll definitely be putting our best foot forward tonight. Anything we can do to get this win, to try and get this win, we'll do that."

The Oilers are on a three-game winning streak and are four points behind the Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division. This is the first of four games between the teams this season.

"I know from a player's standpoint, there is always a little bit of nervousness and some butterflies playing a former team," Oilers forward Matt Hendricks said. "There is excitement; you want to win more than anything. I would assume Todd has a few of the same feelings, and we're going to do everything we can to get him a win tonight."

McLellan led the Sharks to six Stanley Cup Playoff appearances and two Western Conference Finals. However, the Sharks failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2014-15, prompting McLellan's departure from San Jose.

"I probably know that team [San Jose] better than I know our team here in Edmonton," McLellan said. "I know them family-wise and what a lot of those players and individuals have gone through, so I was invested with them, so that's a little bit different. But once it gets going, we have a responsibility to continue on with a good home streak and to play good hockey and be a very good hockey club. That's where our focus will be."

McLellan said the Oilers won't have an easy time trying to extend their winning streak. San Jose has won three of the past four games against Edmonton and five of the past seven.

"Those top six, from Jumbo [Joe Thornton] on down, are elite National Hockey League players," McLellan said. "They're not bottom six guys, they don't filter around moving from the third line on up. They're elite. Their skill-set, their approach to the game, their competitiveness, they are very, very good players."

San Jose has lost four in a row, including a 4-2 defeat at the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

"I think three of those four games were winnable games," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "The Anaheim game [a 1-0 loss last Friday] was a good game. The other games, I think we've beaten ourselves, either giving up early goals or taking too many penalties. There have been long stretches where we've been the better team or we've had more chances than the other team, but you can't beat yourself in this league and that's been the story in this last week."

Goaltender Anders Nilsson will make his sixth consecutive start for the Oilers. Martin Jones will start for San Jose despite being pulled after giving up three goals on 14 shots in the loss to Calgary.

"I wasn't pinning last night on him. I think, as a group, we didn't play well in front of him," DeBoer said. "I don't think he helped the cause either himself, but I don't think he was any different than our group was. Like everybody in our group, we're going to give them all an opportunity to bounce back and show us that they're a better team than they showed last night."

Here are the projected lineups:


Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi - Tomas Hertl - Tommy Wingels

Dainius Zubrus - Chris Tierney - Mike Brown

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun

Mirco Mueller - Matt Tennyson

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Injured: Ben Smith (concussion), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body)

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo, Matt Nieto


Taylor HallLeon DraisaitlJujhar Khaira

Iiro PakarinenRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle

Matt HendricksMark LetestuLauri Korpikoski

Ryan HamiltonAnton LanderTeddy Purcell

Darnell NurseAndrej Sekera

Oscar KlefbomJustin Schultz

Brandon DavidsonEric Gryba

Anders Nilsson

Cam Talbot

Injured: Connor McDavid (collarbone), Rob Klinkhammer (leg), Nail Yakupov (ankle), Benoit Pouliot (lower body), Andrew Ference (undisclosed)

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Eric Gryba

Status report: The Oilers waived defenseman Mark Fayne on Wednesday for the purpose of assigning him to Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. Fayne has one assist in 24 games. … Ference skated with the Oilers on Wednesday and is expected to come off injured reserve within the next few days.

Who's hot: Couture had an assist Tuesday in his first game back from a fractured right fibula. ... Nilsson has not given up more than two goals in any of his past five starts. Hall has two goals and three points in his past two games.

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