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Sharks can clinch playoff spot vs. Oilers

San Jose gets in with win, or help from Arizona; Edmonton's Nugent-Hopkins out with concussion

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

OILERS (29-40-7) at SHARKS (41-26-6)

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; SNOL, CSN-CA, NHL.TV

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks have a second chance to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they face the Edmonton Oilers at SAP Center on Thursday.

The Sharks will get into the postseason if they beat the Oilers in any fashion, or if they get one point and the Arizona Coyotes lose to the Dallas Stars in any fashion, or if the Coyotes lose to Dallas in regulation.

The Sharks missed a chance to secure a playoff spot Tuesday when they lost 1-0 to the St. Louis Blues and the Coyotes defeated the Oilers 4-2.

"Would we like to get that clinching feeling to know we're going to have a spot? Absolutely," Sharks forward Tommy Wingels said after an optional morning skate at Sharks Ice. "You don't want that to prolong and build, sit for three or four games. So it's another opportunity tonight to get that accomplishment and feel good about it and then start prepping ourselves for [the playoffs]."

Goaltender James Reimer will make his fifth start since being traded to San Jose from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 27. He's gone 3-1-0 with San Jose and has a three-game winning streak, which began March 8 with a 31-save shutout of the Oilers in a 3-0 Sharks victory at Rexall Place.

"He played great against Edmonton; he has a good history against Edmonton," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "This guy deserves to play. That's the bottom line."

The Oilers will be without center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who sustained what coach Todd McLellan called a minor concussion Tuesday against Arizona and might miss the final six games of the season.

"He took a blow to the head," McLellan said after Edmonton's morning skate at SAP Center. "He's got a minor concussion and we're going to treat it with kid gloves at this point, where we are in the standings and the time of year. We're not going to fool around with it. If he comes back to us and the doctors clear him then he'll play again. If not, he won't."

Oilers forward Patrick Maroon will return to the lineup after missing the game Tuesday against the Coyotes because of an illness. He'll skate on a line with Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle.

"I feel pretty good right now," Maroon said. "It's just good to sweat again. Laying in your bed for three days, obviously I don't like to do it. I hate being sick. It just feels good to be back with the team and sweat."

Here are the projected lineups:


Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Zack Kassian

Lauri Korpikoski - Mark Letestu - Nail Yakupov

Matt Hendricks - Adam Cracknell - Iiro Pakarinen

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Griffin Reinhart - Jordan Oesterle

Darnell Nurse - Adam Clendening

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Injured: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (concussion), Oscar Klefbom (foot), Andrew Ference (hip), Brandon Davidson (knee), Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Eric Gryba (knee), Adam Pardy (broken finger)

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Anton Lander, Nikita Nikitin


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi

Patrick Marleau - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward

Micheal Haley - Nick Spaling - Tommy Wingels

Dylan DeMelo - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones

James Reimer

Injured: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body), Matt Nieto (broken knuckle), Matt Tennyson (head)

Scratched: Dainius Zubrus

Status update: Talbot will make his second straight start and third in the past four games, but McLellan said he expects Brossoit to start again this season, possibly as soon as Saturday at the Los Angeles Kings. ... Cracknell replaced Nugent-Hopkins in the lineup and will skate on the fourth line, ending a streak of five straight healthy scratches. ... Zubrus' streak of 26 straight games likely will end. ... Jones likely will start against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

Who's hot: McDavid has seven assists during his five-game point streak. ... Eberle has three goals in his past five games, including the game-winner against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. ... Hertl has two goals and four assists in his past five games. ... Ward has three goals, including the game winner Sunday against the Coyotes, in his past three games.

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