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GAME STORY: Oilers 2, Sharks 0

Zack Kassian led the charge as the Oilers scored two shorthanded goals and killed six penalties to defeat the Sharks 2-0 in Game 2

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid scored a shorthanded goal each and Cam Talbot made 16 saves for his first career playoff shutout as Edmonton defeated San Jose 2-0 to tie the series 1-1.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Game 2 Recap

"As a group, we wanted to have a good bounce-back game," said Kassian, with the Sons of Oilers Hockey leather vest wrapped over his shoulders. "All in all, we did that."

The Oilers dished 41 hits, killed six penalties, recorded 36 shots on goal and finished 45 percent in the faceoff circle.

"Playing solid defensively, coming back hard and not cheating for offence," McDavid said post-game regarding what brought the team their Game 2 success. "We kind of got away from that in the first game and found it here in the second."

A shorthanded goal, a number of crushing hits, superb penalty killing, highway speed and sandpaper grit; there were plenty of reasons for Oilers fans to chant "Kassian" as they did in the second period when he seemingly became that highly-coveted dark horse playoff-performer every post-season team needs come April.

"The puck seemed to follow me tonight," said Kassian, ending the night with the one goal, two penalty minutes, four shots and six hits.

Edmonton's third line energizer got the Oilers first prime opportunity of the night. He caught up to a clearing attempt-turned-area pass at the Sharks' blueline and skated in all alone on Martin Jones. With speed, he went to his backhand but missed the far side of the net due to a nagging Paul Martin behind him, who received two minutes for slashing. 

"He was unbelievable," said McDavid. "It was his show tonight and we're happy for him."

The Oilers generated a few chances in the first period on the man advantage but it was the heavy play of the team that hyped Oil Country. In particular, a devastating blow by Kassian on Sharks defender Brenden Dillon and then a Matt Benning check on Joonas Donskoi.

"It's big boy hockey," said San Jose defenceman Brent Burns about the Oilers physicality.

Video: R1, Gm2: Sharks @ Oilers

The Oilers closed out the first 20 minutes with 22 hits and nine shots, carrying over a Patrick Maroon cross-checking penalty into the second frame.

Kassian got the Oilers on the board while killing Maroon's minor. He came in all alone on Jones, this time without a nagging Martin behind him, and fired a wrist shot low blocker just 42 seconds into the period. That was No. 44's first playoff goal and point of his career, with Mark Letestu springing him on the breakaway for the assist.

"There's more to Kass' story than just the equipment, the skates and gloves," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "He's pretty inspirational for everybody in that room considering everything he's gone through in his personal life. He's a rallying point and we're lucky to have characters like that."

Not to be forgotten was the play of Talbot, who didn't see many shots but came up big when they occurred. One such occasion was when Logan Couture and Marc Edouard-Vlasic approached on a 2-on-1. Couture fired a wrist shot and Talbot made an outstretched pad save in the first to keep the game tied.

"I thought I came up with some big saves at timely points when I needed them but for the most part, the guys in front of me locked it down," said Talbot.

With a one-goal lead heading into the third period, the Oilers sought to close out the game unlike Game 1.

And McDavid's shorthanded effort helped them achieve that.

With Milan Lucic in the penalty box for high-sticking, McDavid scooped the puck in his own zone then skated up ice and let go a wrist shot 5-hole on Jones at 10:31 of the third to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead. It was the Oilers Captain's first post-season goal of his career.

That was all the offence they needed but the night did end with a potentially scary moment for the Oilers.

Oscar Klefbom blocked a Burns shot that caught him on the inside of his left leg.

"I went and saw him, he said he's OK," said McLellan.

The Oilers won but it wasn't perfect. There are facets of the game they want to continue to repair, including playing physical but not crossing the line that warrants penalties.

"We want to continue and we will continue to play physical but it's the two penalties after the whistle and it's the careless high stick that we got to eliminate from our game," said McLellan. "Obviously, it's an area we want to clean up."

Game 3 gets under way Sunday at 8:00 PM MDT in San Jose.

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