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Sharks' pursuit of Pacific title continues vs. Oilers

by Brian Hunter

OILERS (26-40-9) at SHARKS (47-20-9)


Last 10: Edmonton 4-5-1; San Jose 5-3-2

Season series: This is the fifth and final game between the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks. San Jose has won three of four, including the only game played at SAP Center, 5-1 on Jan. 2. Sharks forward Joe Pavelski has five goals and seven points to lead all scorers.

Big story: Edmonton hasn't had much of an answer for San Jose this season, except when goalie Ben Scrivens stood on his head Jan. 29 and set an NHL record for saves in a shutout with 59 as the Oilers won 3-0. They've given up an average of 41.5 shots per game against the Sharks, and an average of 31.5 shots over the first two periods.

Team Scope:

Oilers: A three-game road trip that begins Tuesday and an ensuing four-game homestand are all that remain in Edmonton's 2013-14 season. After starting the month of March with a modest 5-2-2 run, the Oilers fell back on hard times by losing four of five -- all at Rexall Place -- and getting outscored 24-8. That included a 5-2 loss to the Sharks on March 25 and a 5-0 loss Sunday to the New York Rangers.

"It seems like we're playing defense way too much. We're having to defend. We don't have the puck as much as we want," forward Taylor Hall said in the Edmonton Sun. "With our skill set, we want to have the puck as much as we can to try create opportunities, and right now it seems like we don't have the puck and it's going in the back of our net."

Sharks: This is the start of a three-game homestand for San Jose, which has seen its hopes of winning the Pacific Division and avoiding the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs take a hit thanks to a 2-3-2 stretch over its past seven games.

The Sharks hadn't had consecutive days without a game since March 9-10 and played 10 games in 17 days to conclude March. Coach Todd McLellan cancelled practice Sunday in order to give his players a little rest. They were back on the ice Monday, but forward Raffi Torres isn't skating and will miss a 12th straight game with general soreness.

"He has to be 100 percent for us to use him," McLellan said. "We're not screwing around with 80 percent or anything like that. He has to be 100 percent, without risk of [injury] reoccurring again."

Who's hot: Oilers forward Jordan Eberle had three goals and three assists over a four-game point streak that was snapped in the shutout loss to the Rangers on Sunday. … Pavelski has four goals and two assists during a three-game point streak for the Sharks. Defenseman Dan Boyle has two goals and two assists during a four-game point streak. Forward Brent Burns has one goal and three assists during a three-game point streak.

Injury report: Edmonton is without defenseman Andrew Ference (pectoral tear) and forwards Nail Yakupov (ankle), Jesse Joensuu (ankle) and Ryan Jones (torn PCL). … San Jose defenseman Jason Demers (flu-like symptoms) returned to practice Monday. Forwards Tomas Hertl (knee) and Adam Burish (hand) are sidelined in addition to Torres.

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