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Brent Burns, Sharks looking for offense

Defenseman, who scored 29 goals in regular season, pointless against Oilers in first three games of series

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was often an unstoppable offensive force during the regular season.

Burns led the Sharks in points (76), assists (47) and shots on goal (320), and was tied with forward Joe Pavelski for the San Jose lead in goals (29). But through three games of the Western Conference First Round series against the Edmonton Oilers, Burns has no points and 12 shots.

After being shut out by Oilers goalie Cam Talbot in Games 2 and 3, the Sharks are in a 2-1 series hole and in desperate need of offense entering Game 4 at SAP Center on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCSCA).

Burns, who had 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the Sharks went to the Final, said with scoring becoming much tougher to come by in the postseason, he may need some divine intervention. 

"Pray to the hockey gods, I guess," Burns said after an optional practice Monday. "It's just playoffs. That's what happens every year. It's hard to create. Obviously, you've got so much video these days. You're keying in on things. It's the same for their guys. They haven't really created much either."

The Oilers, who won Game 3 on Sunday, 1-0, and Game 2 on Friday, 2-0, have scored five goals in the three games. The Sharks won Game 1, 3-2, and haven't scored since. 

"I think both teams are playing really tight," Burns said. "Not a lot of clean goals. It's all little bounces. You just got to work for those bounces and stay confident."

Video: EDM@SJS: Burns buries long-range shot through traffic

Sharks defenseman Paul Martin said the Oilers have a lot to do with Burns, who had two shots each in Games 2 and 3, being kept off the score sheet. 

"I'm sure with their coaching staff and everyone scouting, like we would do on [Oilers center Connor] McDavid, they've done on Brent," Martin said. "They know he's got a great shot and he's able to get it through. They're playing him high and taking away the middle of the ice for those shots.

"Whether it be getting some movement and trying to get him more involved off the blue line, get him in different spots. He's been getting some shots and getting some opportunities. Maybe do some small things to get him a couple more looks."

The Sharks have held McDavid, whose 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) led the League, to one shorthanded goal and one assist in the three games.

"We're limiting him," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "They're doing the same to Burns. If they're going to concentrate on him, somebody else has to get the job done."

Zack Kassian has done that for Edmonton, scoring a goal in Games 2 and 3.

Video: EDM@SJS, Gm3: Kassian shovels a backhand five-hole

Typically, centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture would be prime candidates for the Sharks, but Thornton missed the first two games of this series and the final three regular-season games with an injury to his left knee, and Couture missed the final seven regular-season games after being hit in the mouth with a deflected puck. He has played all three playoff games but has no points and three shots with an average of 19:22 of ice time. Thornton had two shots in 16:27 in his playoff debut in Game 3.

"I thought he was great," DeBoer said of Thornton. "You saw early in the game what he obviously means to our team, and I think talking to him as the game went on, he faded a little bit, but that's natural. But every game him and Logan play, they're going to get better. Obviously, they are key guys for us."

So is Pavelski, but he has one assist and six shots in the series.

"The chances aren't in abundance by any means, so you've got to be ready," Pavelski said. "You get a rebound and by the time you get it and settle it down, they're getting a foot on it or something like that. So you got to shoot it quick, got to shoot it hard and know where you're going with it before you get it. That's the biggest thing that I think we can do. 

"It's just understanding what needs to be done before you get the puck and just have the mindset that we're going to take it to the net."

Talbot hasn't allowed a goal since Game 1 when Melker Karlsson scored in overtime. Since then he's stopped all 39 shots he's faced. 

"He's playing well," Couture said of Talbot. "He's like any goalie; if they see it, they stop it in this league. He's in a groove right now, so that's on us to get traffic. There's definitely rebounds sitting around. I think last night he was having trouble catching the puck in the first [period] and we just didn't get there for the rebounds."

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