The Oilers defeat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 to advance to the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs
SAN JOSE, CA - Two breakaway goals just 56 seconds apart in the second period followed by a Connor McDavid empty-netter gave the Oilers a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday and a 4-2 series victory to send them into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Pacific Division foes split the first two games of the series before the Oilers took Game 5 at home and Game 6 on the road to advance to play the Anaheim Ducks in the second round. Up 2-1 late in the third period, the Oilers withstood a ferocious Sharks push, got their empty-netter from McDavid and closed out the series.
"It takes work, it takes lessons, it takes repetition and practice, it takes pain… it doesn't come easy," said Head Coach Todd McLellan following the series-clinching win. "For our team, we're watching them grow up right in front of us, which is a great thing… It gets tougher as it goes. We're going to continue to learn lessons, but we'll relish this for now."
The last time the Oilers visited the Shark Tank on Tuesday it was the home team that dominated off the opening faceoff en route to a 7-0 decision, but Edmonton dictated the play in the first period on Saturday. The Oilers finished the frame leading shots 9-6, including two apiece from Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle as their line alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a strong start.
Ironically, the best Sharks chance of the first came while the Oilers were on the power play. After Joel Ward was sent to the sin bin for hooking, the Sharks deployed a surprisingly aggressive shorthanded forecheck, which created a turnover and chance for Melker Karlsson, but the Game 1 overtime hero was denied by the blocker of netminder Cam Talbot.
It was all Oilers to start the middle frame as back-to-back breakaway goals from Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev spotted them 2-0 lead.
On Draisaitl's opening goal, Oscar Klefbom blocked a Sharks point shot, Adam Larsson corralled the loose puck and sprung the German in alone on San Jose goalie Martin Jones. Draisaitl held off pursuing defender Justin Braun and beat Jones via the five-hole for his first career playoff tally.
Just 56 seconds later, Sharks blueliner Paul Martin missed a pass back to the point as Slepyshev was approaching to cover. The Russian blew past Martin and had a breakaway from centre ice, rifling a wrist shot between Jones' short-side pad and blocker for his first career playoff goal.
Slepyshev became the first Oilers rookie to score a goal in the post-season since Brad Winchester lit the lamp in Game 2 against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of 2006. He's also the third rookie in franchise history to score a game-winning, series-clinching playoff goal, joining Jaroslav Pouzar (1983) and Josef Beranek (1992).
The Oilers took their 2-0 cushion into the final frame and killed off a Matt Benning tripping penalty, but Patrick Marleau finally solved Talbot with 7:48 left on the clock to make it 2-1. Logan Couture found him with a precise pass in tight and the veteran made no mistake for his third goal of the series.
The Sharks continued to press in the final minutes for the equalizing goal and even had another power play after the Oilers got caught with too many men on the ice, but Talbot stood tall with 27 saves and McDavid sauced a backhand shot into the empty net from centre ice with one second remaining to seal the win.
Draisaitl had a chance to scored into the empty net prior to McDavid's dagger, but as he flexed his stick the shaft broke in two and the Ducks were able to stay alive a bit longer. The Oilers were also without Klefbom for the third period, as the workhorse defender succumbed to the illness he's currently battling.
"We definitely made it harder on ourselves, but you know they were going to push and fight for their lives," Lucic said. "But at the end of the day, this one feels good for this organization, our coaching staff and all the players. I think we definitely earned this one."
Next up, Anaheim in Round 2.
The Oilers won three of their five games against the Ducks during the regular season, but two of those wins required extra time.
"We're not going to look past anyone or anything," McDavid said. "The Ducks are the division champs. We've had a tough time with them all year and we know that the work only gets harder from here. We'll take our time, enjoy this win and get ready for them."
The second-round schedule has not yet been released, but since the Ducks won the Pacific Division regular season title, they will host the first two games. The series switches back to Rogers Place for the next two.