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Sharks rally to defeat Oilers, spoil goalie's NHL debut

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- Eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the San Jose Sharks played the spoiler role Thursday, ruining the outstanding NHL debut of Edmonton Oilers goaltender Laurent Brossoit.

Brossoit made 49 saves, but San Jose rallied for a 3-1 victory at Rexall Place.

Bryan Lerg, also making his NHL debut, scored the game-winning goal at 17:08 of the third period.

"I have no words, honestly," Lerg said. "It was an unbelievable game to play in. We had chances all night. I thought our line played pretty well. I was hoping it was just a matter of time and I got out there with [Logan Couture's] line. I was kind of shocked I was thrown out there, but I tried to make the most of it. He made a great dish there to get it on my stick, and I knew I had to get it up on that guy."

Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto also scored for San Jose in the third period. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made 26 saves.

"[Brossoit] played very well," Couture said. "He made a lot of saves, breakaways. We could have four or five, but he was really good. We just kept plugging away and got that one late."

Brossoit, who was recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, was busy early, making 19 saves in the first period. He was instrumental in killing off a boarding major assessed to Curtis Hamilton at 2:08 of the first period.

Hamilton, who was playing his first NHL game, hit Lerg from behind seconds into his first shift. Lerg was not injured on the play.

"Brossoit played amazing," Oilers forward Taylor Hall said. "It was one of those things where you're happy to see a goalie play that well and make all those saves, but at the same time, you don't want to give up those Grade A chances. He made so many miraculous saves tonight that it was just a weird feeling to watch. He played so well, he had so many shots.

"It was just like [Ben Scrivens' 59-save shutout] last year against San Jose, but they ended up getting a couple. Like I said, last year when it happened, it was fun to watch, but they had so many chances that we just can't allow."

Brossoit, who played in junior with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, made 14 saves in the second period, including a good pad stop on Sharks defenseman Taylor Fedun all alone in front of the net.

Brossoit, 22, is 22-21-4 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .916 save percentage with Oklahoma City this season. He started 25 straight games for the Barons before he was called up.

"Obviously, that's not the way I wanted to end the game, considering how it was going for me," Brossoit said. "But I have to take out the positives. I wanted to show well and show what I could do, and I think I did that. I was so nervous at the beginning of the game, but I felt I eased in quicker than I thought. Naturally, I'm upset I didn't get the win, just because it was so close, but I have to take the positives out of this."

Nail Yakupov put the Oilers up 1-0 at 12:30 of the second period, capitalizing on a turnover by Sharks defenseman Justin Braun in front of the San Jose net. Braun fanned on a clearing pass, the puck landed on Yakupov's stick, and the Edmonton forward snapped a shot over Niemi.

Marleau tied the game 1-1 at 10:32 of the third period, capitalizing when Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz fell while trying to retrieve the puck in his own zone. Marleau got to the puck, then waited out Brossoit before firing it into the top of the net. The goal came on the Sharks' 42nd shot.

"I kept thinking he was going to get a shutout, then I thought I have to stop thinking it because I'm going to jinx the poor kid. You feel so bad for him," Oilers forward Teddy Purcell said. "We were all talking about how impressive it was. For a guy playing his first game, he was very calm in net. He made the first save, and we weren't doing a very good job clearing rebounds. They were getting second and third chances, and he was shutting the door."

Lerg scored the game-winner after taking a cross-crease pass from Couture. Lerg, 29, who started his career in the Oilers organization, was recalled from the Worcester Sharks of the AHL on Monday.

"I thought it was a really good thing for [Lerg] as an individual and for our whole team," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He has put a lot of time in, and for him not only to get that goal, but to play the way he did, that was great. It is a lesson for a lot of us, not only in hockey, but in life, to persevere and follow your dreams, and you will get there eventually, and he got there tonight."

Nieto scored an empty-net goal with 29 seconds left to seal the victory for San Jose.

The Sharks conclude their regular season at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, when the Oilers visit the Vancouver Canucks for their final game.

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