Before the San Jose Sharks embark on a season-high eight-game trip, the NHL's best road team will look to continue its recent success at home.
The Sharks look to dominate the last-place Edmonton Oilers for a second straight time when the teams meet at HP Pavilion on Thursday.
Starting Sunday, the Sharks (31-17-8) play eight straight road games - the first five against Atlantic Division teams - as they try to build on a 17-5-3 road mark that's tops in the league.
San Jose will be looking to take advantage of this trip to gain on first-place Dallas in the Pacific Division. They trail the Stars by five points, but have four games in hand.
Until recently, the Sharks had struggled at home, but they're 5-1-1 in their last seven games there, including 3-1-1 on their current six-game homestand.
On Jan. 29, San Jose handed the Oilers (26-27-5) a demoralizing 3-0 defeat in Edmonton. The Sharks outshot the Oilers 39-13, including 21-4 in the second period.
"You can say that we got outbattled but we didn't even get to the battle," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said that night. "It was a humiliating evening in virtually all of the aspects of the game."
|The Sharks square off against the last-place Oilers tonight at HP Pavilion before they embark on a crucial and season-high eight-game road trip, the first five of which will be against the entire Atlantic Division. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Ulan)
The Sharks had a similar edge in shots Tuesday against Calgary, piling up a 43-18 advantage, but they lost 4-3 in overtime. The Flames tied the game on a 6-on-4 with just 50 seconds left, then won with 25 seconds remaining in overtime on Jarome Iginla's goal.
"The way we played tonight should have been good enough to win," Sharks winger Mike Grier said. "It's not a time for moral victories. We've got to find a way to get the two points. We've got to make plays. We have to get it straight before the playoffs. We're too good a team for that to keep happening."
San Jose had won two straight before losing to the Flames, and was playing its first game of the season without captain Patrick Marleau, who was out with a groin injury.
The Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov had just 14 saves, and has allowed seven goals on just 31 shots in his last two games. San Jose is giving up the second-fewest shots in the NHL, behind only Detroit, with 24.5 allowed per game.
"We had a lot of play in their end, and in the last few minutes, they got the puck in our end and took advantage of it," forward Jonathan Cheechoo said.
Edmonton used a similar formula to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Tuesday, getting outshot 40-23 but holding a lead nearly throughout and sealing the win on two third-period goals by Kyle Brodziak.
Mathieu Garon had 38 saves for the Oilers. Garon has a 1.83 goals-against average in his last six games, going 4-2-0 over that span and making at least 32 saves four times.
"Sometimes when you have a young team, you can get panicking a little bit in your zone," Garon said. "We were giving up a lot of shots, but at the same time most of the shots were coming from the side and they were shooting from everywhere. Sometimes the shot clock doesn't really reflect the game."
Edmonton, 3-6-2 in its last 11 road games, also lost 3-0 in its most recent visit to San Jose on March 11. The Sharks outshot the Oilers 31-22, and are 3-0-1 in their last four against Edmonton overall.