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Preview: Sharks at Oilers

San Jose, Edmonton look to gain on first place in Pacific

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

SHARKS (43-26-7) at OILERS (42-25-9)

9 p.m. ET; SNW, CSN-CA, NHL.TV 

 
Sharks team scope

The San Jose Sharks are tied with the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division, and each team is two points behind the first-place Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks and Oilers play each other again next Thursday in San Jose. "That makes these games a little bit more exciting, a little bit more fun to be a part of," center Joe Thornton said. "Who knows? We could be set up in the first round. It's a good test for both teams with six regular-season games left." The Sharks are playing the first of a three-game Western Canada road trip. They conclude the regular season on a three-game homestand against the Vancouver Canucks, Oilers and Calgary Flames. "They're all important," defenseman Brent Burns said. "Obviously, our division is tight and we're getting down to crunch time and you just have to win. I think for your individual team, confidence is good, so you want to win as much as you can and feel good about your game. It's about getting everything ready to go for the playoffs, it's a fun time of year." San Jose ended a season-high six-game losing streak with a 5-4 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

 

Oilers team scope

The Oilers, who clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 11 years with a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, are in contention for their first division title since the 1986-87 season. "If you look at that Pacific Division, there are four teams fighting for that division lead," forward Milan Lucic said. "We're right there. We're obviously feeling good about what we accomplished so far in clinching a playoff spot, but we know there is still a lot at stake with six games left." The Oilers are on a six-game home winning streak and have won seven of their past eight games overall (7-1-0). "We're going to try and keep it steady on the rudder, another game to play, park the last one, get ready for the next one," coach Todd McLellan said. "The fact the X is there [having clinched a playoff spot] is a nice accomplishment, but that may be the easiest task. The next task is to try and finish as high as we can and in some way get home-ice advantage. Then the task after that will be to get ready for our opponent [in the playoffs], whoever that may be." Defenseman Darnell Nurse said the Oilers still have work to do before the playoffs. "These are big games for us, obviously, we still have some goals in mind coming here down the stretch," he said. "It's a big game and I think both sides are going to be highly motivated for it."

 

Sharks projected lineup

Timo Meier -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson -- Patrick Marleau -- Joel Ward

Jannik Hansen -- Tomas Hertl -- Mikkel Boedker

Micheal Haley -- Chris Tierney -- Joonas Donskoi

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- David Schlemko

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell  

Scratched: Marcus Sorensen, Kevin Labanc, Dylan DeMelo

Injured: Logan Couture (face)

 

Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot -- David Desharnais -- Zack Kassian

Drake Caggiula -- Mark Letestu -- Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Darnell Nurse -- Matt Benning

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Iiro Pakarinen, Jujhar Khaira, Matt Hendricks, Eric Gryba

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (knee)

 

Status report

Couture is not on the road trip and will miss his second game after sustaining a facial injury when he was hit with a puck at the Nashville Predators on Saturday. … Marleau will play center on the second line, moving down from the top line in Couture's absence … Haley will return to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for roughing Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok … Benning will return after missing one game with a leg injury he sustained blocking a shot against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

 

Who's hot

Marleau has four points (three goals, one assist) in his past four games … Draisaitl has 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) during an eight-game point streak. … McDavid leads the NHL in scoring with 89 points (27 goals, 62 assists), five points ahead of Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (34 goals, 50 assists). McDavid has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) during an eight-game point streak.

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