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Oilers hoping to find net, snap losing skid

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers need to end a scoring drought before snapping a losing skid.

Heading into their game against the San Jose Sharks on Friday at Rexall Place (10 p.m. ET, TSN), the Oilers have not scored at home in 182:04 of play.

They have been shut out in their past three home games and are on a four-game losing skid.

"When you look at the chances from the Dallas game, we have two wide-open nets where their goalie made a hell of a save on one and the other one we hit the crossbar," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Those are two tap-ins usually. I'm not buying into the 'we can't score' right now. We're getting some good looks at their net.

"The one thing we worked on in practice the other day was our cycle game. That's something that maybe doesn't come naturally to our group. Our group likes to attack off the rush more than anything, but we've got to establish a cycle game and spend more time in the other team's zone."

The Oilers' last goal at home came with 2:04 left in the third period of a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Oct. 24.

"I haven't really thought about [the scoring slump] personally, probably because I haven't played at home in a long time other than the other night," Oilers forward Taylor Hall said. "It's tough, you want to give your fans something to cheer about, but when you're not scoring it's hard."

Compounding problems for the Oilers is the fact they're giving up more goals than any other team in the League -- 78 in 20 games, including two empty-net goals in a loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.

Only two other teams in the Western Conference [the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks] have more goals than the Sharks do this season.

"We're going to have to be on our game," Eakins said. "This is a strong, strong team with a power play with so many different looks sometimes you don't even know where to start with.

"They're creative and deadly on it. We can't get into another night where we're taking five or six penalties, especially the ones that don't do anything, the tripping and the holding and hooking penalties."

The Sharks enter third in the Western Conference standings. They defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in overtime Thursday.

"This is one of the top teams in the League for me," Eakins said. "Just looking at the tape, they're very impressive with the pace they play, with the heaviness. They play a hard, hard game and this is what we have to aspire to be. We can't have any passengers [Friday]. We have to have everybody all-in."

Devan Dubnyk is expected to start in goal for Oilers. He played well in the loss to the Stars, giving up just one goal on 24 shots.

At the other end Alex Stalock could get the call for the Sharks, who got a strong goaltending performance from Antti Niemi on Thursday in Vancouver.

Stalock is 2-0 with a 1.57 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in three games.

The Sharks did not have a morning skate, having flown in late from Vancouver the night before. The Oilers had an optional skate.

This is what the lineups are expected to be Friday:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

David Perron - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky

Ryan Smyth - Boyd Gordon - Nail Yakupov

Jesse Joensuu - Will Acton - Ryan Jones

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Anton Belov - Philip Larsen

Nick Schultz - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk

Jason LaBarbera

Injured: Justin Schultz (groin), Luke Gazdic (shoulder)


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Tommy Wingels

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tyler Kennedy

Matthew Nieto - Joe Pavelski - Martin Havlat

James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Brad Stuart - Justin Braun

Jason Demers - Scott Hannan

Alex Stalock

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Matt Irwin, John McCarthy

Injured: Brent Burns (face), Raffi Torres (knee), Adam Burish (back)

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