SAN JOSE, CA -- For the second straight game, it was Cam Talbot and Zack Kassian who stood tall as the heroes as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the San Jose Sharks.
Talbot stopped all 23 shots he faced for his second-straight shutout while Zack Kassian scored the game's only goal for his second-straight game-winning goal as the Oilers defeated the Sharks 1-0 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
"His play speaks for itself," said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan about Kassian. "He stepped up to the plate and he's delivered for three games straight. Scoring big goals but also doing a lot of other things. The penalty kill portion of it, the forecheck, the momentum has been tremendous for us."
The game-winning goal - the game's only goal - came with 9:15 remaining in the third period. David Schlemko tried to clear the puck out but Kassian knocked it down and backhanded it five-hole past Sharks netminder Martin Jones to score and make it 1-0.
"It all starts with Drat," said Kassian of the goal. "He started skating and didn't stop skating. I saw (Schlemko) was looking for a long pass and I just tried to get in the way. Lucky for me, I got a hand on it and tried to settle it down then shot it on net."
McLellan added his thoughts on the winning marker.
"The goal, it was really a line goal in my opinion," McLellan remarked. "Leon (Draisaitl) was involved in the forecheck and put the puck into a good area. It was real good anticipation skills by Kass to read where the play was going and he found a way to sneak it by the goaltender."
The fact that Draisaitl was even on that line was a result of an adjustment made by McLellan midway through the game where he moved Anton Slepyshev up alongside Connor McDavid and Patrick Maroon. He then moved Draisaitl to play with Drake Caggiula and Kassian.
"When you're on the road, you don't always get what you want," McLellan stated. "With Jumbo (Joe Thornton) coming back into the game, they're big and strong down the middle. It's one of their strengths. It started the night a certain way and I didn't think it was working in our favour so we moved a few things around."
McLellan was quick to point out that the change had nothing to do with the performance of Draisiatl.
"It was not a demotion by any means for Leon. In fact, I whispered in his ear that it was a promotion because his responsibility level had to go way up."
McLellan was happy with how his team reacted following that change. The Oilers outshot the Sharks 12-4 in the second period after being outshot 13-6 in the first.
"The game changed a little bit in that time and the whole team's play went up when we did that. It was a tight game. It could have went either way. Both teams played well, Both goaltenders played well. We were on the right side of it."
Kassian talked about the addition of Draisaitl to his line as well.
"I think he was just trying to get everyone going. Tonight we used all lines. Everyone contributed. It was one of those things where he felt there needed to be a change and everyone responded well."
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer agreed with McLellan on the game being even between the two clubs.
"I thought both teams were good defensively. You look at the defensive game, I was happy with our defensive game and I suspect Todd's probably saying the same. We kept McDavid off the board. I thought he had some good looks but I thought we eliminated a lot of the time and space."