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Oilers-Sharks Preview @NHLdotcom
Oilers-Sharks Preview

GAME: Edmonton Oilers (24-17-5) at San Jose Sharks (21-17-5).

TIME: Thursday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

After losing three straight games to Eastern Conference teams, the San Jose Sharks hope for better luck as they play one of their Western Conference rivals, the San Jose Sharks.

The Oilers are mired in their worst losing streak since a seven-game skid from Oct. 11-25 after Monday's 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Edmonton has been undisciplined during the losing streak and struggling with its penalty killing, allowing four goals in 26 opportunities.

"We took ourselves out of the game for two periods, then couldn't get it going in the third ...," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said of Monday's loss. "A lot of it was a product of playing a good team."

Ales Hemsky had the lone goal for the Oilers, who are starting a six-game stretch in which they play five road games.

"It's tough when you're killing penalties all night," Oilers captain Jason Smith said. "We're not getting the results we want."

Vesa Toskala made 21 saves, and Joe Thornton had two assists to give him an NHL-high 48 as the Sharks posted a 3-1 win Monday over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Toskala, who backs up Evgeni Nabokov, extended his unbeaten streak to five starts and came with 8:52 of his third career shutout.

Sharks right wing Jonathan Cheechoo extended his points streak to a career-high nine games with an assist Monday.

"We're not where we want to be, but we've got some games in hand and we're picking up our game," said left wing Nils Ekman, who scored with 1:54 to play. "We're confident and we think we're on the right track."

The Sharks have won nine of their last 11 games but have just one win in their last eight games against the Oilers, a 2-1 triumph Nov. 30, 2003.

STANDINGS: Oilers - 53 points, 4th place, 4 PB, Northwest Division. Sharks - 47 points, 3rd place (tied), 15 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - Ryan Smyth, 19 goals; Shawn Horcoff and Hemsky, 34 assists; Shawn Horcoff, 48 points; Smith, 64 PIM. Sharks - Cheechoo, 25 goals; Thornton, 48 assists and 63 points; Mark Smith, 59 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Oilers - Power play: 19.4 percent (55 for 284), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.9 percent (237 for 286), 13th. Sharks - Power play: 16.9 percent (44 for 260), 17th. Penalty killing: 79.5 percent (167 for 210), 26th.

GOALTENDERS: Oilers - Jussi Markkanen (14-11-4, 0 SO, 3.13 GAA); Mike Morrison (5-1-0, 0, 2.35). Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov (11-12-5, 1, 3.02); Toskala (5-4-0, 0, 3.36).

SEASON SERIES: Oilers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 21, 2005; Oilers, 2-1 (SO). At Edmonton, Alberta, Hemsky and Smyth scored shootout goals, lifting the Oilers to their second straight win over the Sharks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Oilers - 13-8-3 on the road; Sharks - 13-4-3 at home.

Associated Press
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