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Role players stepped up for Oilers

Zack Kassian, David Desharnais, Anton Slepyshev scored big goals in series win against Sharks

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- In a Western Conference First Round series so closely contested, the Edmonton Oilers defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games with one unexpected advantage.

"Look at the four game-winners in the series," Oilers left wing Milan Lucic said. "Who scored them? [Zack] Kassian with two, [David] Desharnais and [Anton] Slepyshev. Not the guys you normally see or you would pick to get those goals. But you need those goals at this time of year and like I said, it just feels good."

Slepyshev had the game-winner on a second-period breakaway to help the Oilers to a 3-1 win in Game 6 at SAP Center on Saturday.


[RELATED: Complete Oilers vs. Sharks series coverage | Dillman: Sharks' window may have closed with Joe Pavelski's near miss]


With their first Stanley Cup Playoff series victory since winning the Western Conference Final in five games against the Anaheim Ducks in 2006, the Oilers advance to the Second Round against the Ducks, the top team in the Pacific Division during the regular season.

Video: EDM@SJS, Gm6: Slepyshev nets wrister on breakaway

"It's a great feeling in this room right now," said Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who had another sharp game with 27 saves. "It's a veteran group over there and they've been around before so we knew we were going to go have a big hurdle to climb here, especially in this building. We knew it wasn't going to be easy.

"Leon [Draisaitl] had a big goal there, then [Slepyshev] with a big goal (56 seconds later). We knew we'd have to check coming hard down the stretch there and we did a good job finishing it off."

Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored into an empty net at 19:59 of the third period, his second goal of the series, to finish it off.

"We're not going to look past anyone or anything," McDavid said. "The Ducks are the division champs. We've had a tough time with them all year. The work only gets harder from here."

The difficulty of the work was what Oilers coach Todd McLellan wanted to talk about.

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm5: Desharnais strikes for OT win

"It takes work," McLellan said. "It takes lessons. It takes repetition in practice. It takes pain. It doesn't come easy. And for our team, we're watching them grow up right in front of us, which is a great thing, we've been through a push into the playoffs. We've been through a round now. We've learned how intense it is to close out a game. We've learned how to respond after a blowout. We've learned to manage ourselves throughout a series. We've played in a hostile environment.

"So that's great to this point. And that's just the first round and it gets tougher as it goes. We're going to continue to learn lessons. We'll relish this for now and back to the drawing board tomorrow."

During the regular season Edmonton had a 3-2-0 record against the Ducks, winning two games in overtime.

"It was a really tough season series against them," Lucic said. "I think we had some bad blood against them as well and I'm sure that will carry over. Come playoff time, there's no holding back. We're excited for the challenge and I know they are as well. Both teams' record heading into the playoffs were unreal and we just have to make sure we're sharp going in."

McLellan took a brief glimpse of what's ahead for the Oilers.

"The details, the execution, they've gone 15-0-3, something like that in the last 18 games, so confidence is certainly in their favor," McLellan said. "They feel good about their game. They're rested. They're getting more preparation time than we are. That's OK. In my opinion, we're playing with house money. Sometimes that's not a bad thing."

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm2: Kassian nets SHG on breakaway

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