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Sharks roll over Oilers 6-1

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON -- The San Jose Sharks gave the young Edmonton Oilers a lesson in the dangers of taking penalties.

The Sharks chewed up Edmonton's porous penalty-killing with power-play goals by Dany Heatley, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle on the way to a 6-1 victory at Rexall Place on Saturday night. It was the Sharks third straight road victory to start the season -- a first in franchise history. For the Oilers, it's four consecutive losses and counting.

Put San Jose's third-ranked power play and Edmonton's 29th-ranked penalty killing together and what transpired should be no surprise. The Oilers have given up nine goals while shorthanded during their four-game losing streak.

"We've got some skill up front," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "They are a work in progress, and they're going to be a good team in a couple of years, but they're just learning right now. They're working hard, but we have a potent power play right now."

For all the optimism surrounding the rebuilding Oilers early in this new season, Edmonton's penalty-killing is tied for 29th after Saturday's games at 66.7 percent -- even lower than last season's 26th-place finish (78.0 percent).

Edmonton's power play, meanwhile, continued its struggles against the Sharks. The Oilers, who went 0-for-12 with a man advantage in the season series against San Jose last season, didn't get a sniff again.

"We started good, we got the first goal and we were pushing the pace pretty well," Oilers forward Sam Gagner said. "Then, you take penalties and they score a couple goals and you let them back into the game."

The night started optimistically enough for the Oilers and their fans.

The capacity crowd hadn't even settled in when rookie Jordan Eberle put the Oilers ahead 1-0 with his second shorthanded goal of the season, a dash down the left wing that was every bit the crowd-pleaser his highlight reel effort in a 4-0 win over Calgary on opening night was.

Eberle took a pass from Shawn Horcoff, accelerated to the net on his backhand, held off a pursuing Patrick Marleau, then went to his forehand and tucked the puck past Antero Niittymaki 82 seconds into the game.

After that, the Oilers' faithful had precious little to yell about.

Heatley tied it when he deflected a Pavelski shot behind Nikolai Khabibulin late in the opening period to tie it 1-1. After Logan Couture stripped Edmonton's Jim Vandermeer behind the net, wheeled in front and lifted a backhand over Khabibulin to make it 2-1 at 12:46 of the second at even strength, San Jose's power played got plugged in again.

"When Eberle went down the wall and scored, maybe that's what we needed," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "It woke us up a little bit. It didn't look like we were overly prepared to play, then we fell behind one and finally got our game. The power play was effective again tonight and it has been all year. We're very fortunate to have some very skilled players on more than one unit.

"We're lucky that way and it's going to have to continue to remain hot until we find our 5-on-5 game."

Pavelski continued his personal hot streak on the man advantage with his third power-play goal, a backhand in tight, to make it 3-1 late in the second. It was 4-1 on a Ryane Clowe goalmouth tap in early in the third when Boyle's slap shot found net with Heatley screening Khabibulin to make it a four-goal margin. Rookie John McCarthy completed the scoring with his first NHL goal.

"Special teams won big for us," said Pavelski, who had two assists to go with his goal. "The power play stepped up and we were able to get a few that way. We didn't start the way we wanted to. We get an early power play and then we do that. it's tough. It's good we responded in the right way."

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