The Oilers didn’t have the first period against the San Jose Sharks they wanted or expected. By the end of the opening 20 minutes Thursday night, Edmonton found themselves down 2-0.
Lauri Korpikoski got the important first goal for Edmonton 1:39 into the second period, after the team received chastisement from Head Coach Todd McLellan during the intermission. Following Korpikoski’s tally, the Oilers comeback continued.
Taylor Hall scored at 8:18 of the middle frame and Adam Clendening gave the Oilers their first lead just 45 seconds later. Following a Sharks goal to tie the game at 3-3, Patrick Maroon responded for the Oilers and they never surrendered the lead again. Hall’s empty-net goal at 19:54 of the third closed out the 6-3 win.
“It was huge coming back from behind,” said Korpikoski. “We haven’t had too many of those lately. The first period is something we all learned from. We weren’t ready to go in that one, but the last 40 was a lot better.”
With San Jose trying to clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Oilers, it was impressive that Edmonton was able to not only come from behind, but beat a motivated team in their own barn.
“It says a lot. It says we’re capable of doing that, and it says basically going forward into next year, if we play like that, we can beat any team in this league. That’s a good sign,” said Maroon. “The last month of this season, it’s probably the hardest to play. It’s like playing playoff hockey. Some teams are trying to make it, some teams are trying to clinch a playoff spot so they’re playing for their spots. To come back and win shows good character in the locker room and good response, good poise and the leaders took charge.”
The playoffs are not in the team’s immediate future, but showing resiliency down the stretch is better than the alternative.
“We may not be in a playoff spot this year but it gives us confidence going into the summer that if next year we come back and play 60 minutes (every game) then we can be a playoff team,” said defenceman Jordan Oesterle.
Maybe momentum won’t carry into 2016-17, but lessons learned may and momentum can at least provide a boost heading into their showdown with Los Angeles Saturday night.
“It definitely gives us some momentum going into LA, and it definitely gives the boys a boost of confidence leaving San Jose with two points,” said Oesterle. “We came out in the first not the way we wanted and responded well in the second and third.”