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Oilers end homestand by hosting Sharks

by Brian Schiazza /

SHARKS (16-6-4) at EDMONTON (10-12-3)

Last 10 -- Sharks 5-2-3; Oilers 3-5-2

Season series -- Friday's matchup at Rexall Place marks the first meeting of the season between the two clubs. The Sharks went 3-0-1 against Edmonton in '08-09, outscoring the Oilers 12-7. Edmonton leads the all-time regular season series 39-28-12-2.

Big story -- With the Sharks boasting one of the NHL's most potent lineups, the Oilers would like to have Nikolai Khabibulin back in goal to face fellow Russian netminder Evgeni Nabokov -- both veterans will be vying for the starting spot on the Russian National Team for the Winter Olympics. But Khabibulin has been battling a bad back, and that might mean a third-straight start in net for Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who has allowed just two goals in his last two games after getting shelled for five in his first game spotting the ailing Khabibulin.

Team Scope:

Sharks -- The Sharks are coming off a 7-2 loss to Chicago on Wednesday in which their vaunted power play allowed three shorthanded goals. San Jose has lost just twice in regulation during November and is certain to come out eager to atone for the rout by the Hawks. San Jose still leads the overall standings with 36 points, with Chicago just two points behind.

Oilers -- With a six-game road trip looming, Edmonton will hope to conclude its five-game homestand with a flourish. The Oilers are 2-2-0 on the homestand, mixing encouraging wins over Phoenix and Colorado with losses to Chicago and Los Angeles. They have won only four of their past 16 games following Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Kings, and things may get even tougher if the back injury to Khabibulin and an upper body injury to Ales Hemsky keep both out.

Who's hot -- Before the Sharks' meltdown against Chicago, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau had combined for 32 goals through 25 games. Heatley alone has 19 points in his last 18 games. … Oilers defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has seven points in his last five games.

Injury report -- San Jose captain Rob Blake has returned to practice, but is still sidelined with an upper body injury suffered in a Nov. 4 game at Columbus. Forward Devin Setoguchi remains on injured reserve list with a lower body injury, and forward Brad Staubitz remains out of the lineup for a few weeks after taking a puck in the face during practice. Center Torrey Mitchell has just finished his conditioning assignment in Worcester. The Oilers may be without Hemsky, who left midway through Wednesday's loss with an upper-body injury after being drilled into the boards by Michal Handzus. The Oilers are also without defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (partially torn ACL), Mike Comrie (mononucleosis) and Robert Nilsson (concussion). Forward Fernando Pisani remains out with ulcerative colitis, while forwards Marc Pouliot and Ryan Stone and defenseman Taylor Chorney are on IR.

Stat pack -- Only the second-seeded Blackhawks have more home wins (10) among Western Conference teams than the Oilers (8), while San Jose became the last team in the entire NHL to lose in regulation at home this season with Wednesday's loss to Chicago.

Puck drop -- "It was one of those games that was up there for grabs by one of the two teams and they got it and we didn't," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said of his club's 2-1 loss to Edmonton. "We played just poorly enough to not win it and they played just well enough to win it. They're going home with two points and we are sucking wind."

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