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West-leading Sharks welcome struggling Oilers

by Brian Compton
OILERS (16-21-4) at SHARKS (26-8-7)

Last 10: Edmonton 2-8-0; San Jose 7-1-2

Season Series:
This is the second of four meetings between the teams. San Jose edged Edmonton in a 5-4 shootout victory at Rexall Place on Nov. 27. Patrick Marleau had a hat trick in the win.

Big Story: The Sharks enter 2010 with plenty of confidence as they're once again one of the top teams in the League. Their highly-skilled line of Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley was named to Team Canada for February’s Olympic Games in Vancouver, while Joe Pavelski was named to the U.S. squad on Friday. Overall, San Jose has eight Olympians.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton ended a seven-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 3-1 win over Toronto, but could be on the verge of starting another one with a 2-1 loss at Calgary on Thursday. Shawn Horcoff scored the lone goal for the Oilers, while Jeff Deslauriers made 37 saves.

"We don't even test their goaltender in the second period," coach Pat Quinn said. "We didn't even challenge anywhere because we never got in their end. That's a sign of a dumb team."

San Jose participated in some intense games this week, and Thursday night was no different. Ryane Clowe scored in the sixth round of the shootout to lift the conference-leading Sharks to their second 3-2 victory against Phoenix in four nights.

"This was a prime example of gutting out a victory," coach Todd McLellan said. "We challenged our team today. We wanted to find out how tough we were mentally, how tough we were when things are not going our way with travel and we're not feeling well."

Who’s Hot:
Deslauriers has allowed only three goals in his last two games, although he only has one win to show for it. … Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, who will also represent Canada next month, played more than 27 minutes on Thursday night and scored his 100th NHL goal.

Injury Report:
Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (back) and center Marc Pouliot (sports hernia) are day-to-day. Forwards Fernando Pisani (colitis) and Mike Comrie (mono) are out indefinitely, while Ales Hemsky (shoulder) is done for the season. … Sharks forwards Brad Staubitz (face) and Jody Shelley (hand) are day-to-day.

Stat Pack:
After finishing 25th in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage last season, Edmonton is ranked 28th in that department this time around. … Thornton is on pace for 110 points this season. He has 11 goals and 44 assists.

Puck Drop: "I don't think we look too much into it. It's just one of those things where you're playing well, the team's doing well and the wealth gets spread around quite a bit." -- Marleau’s thoughts on his line in the San Jose Mercury News

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