EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers made things interesting with a push early in the third period, but could not overcome the hole they dug earlier in a 5-3 loss to their visitors from San Jose.
"We weren't sharp enough throughout the first half of the game," said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. "I thought the last 25 minutes we actually played pretty good, but against a team like that you can't not play that well for as long as we did."
In the important Pacific Division battle, the Sharks struck first at 1:39 of the opening frame. With Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot sprawling on the ice, Mikkel Boedker lifted the puck and buried it upstairs for his fourth of the season. Melker Karlsson and Brent Burns recorded the assists.
Connor McDavid recorded the opening penalty of the game, going off for hooking at 3:47 of the first. Talbot robbed Joe Pavelski of a good opportunity on the ensuing penalty kill, drawing applause from the Rogers Place fans. Oilers defenceman Kris Russell also made two big plays to keep the puck out of the net on that PK.
The Oilers were able to tie the game with 4:07 left in the opening frame. Drake Caggiula backhanded the puck in from on the doorstep to make it 1-1. Benoit Pouliot and Zack Kassian got the helpers. The assist was Pouliot's first point since December 9, and Caggiula's first goal since New Year's Eve.
The Sharks took back the lead with just 18 seconds left in the first. Burns fired a shot from the point and it sizzled its way past Talbot to make it 2-1.
Boedker scored his second of the night at 2:24 of the second frame. With Talbot out of his crease at the far post, Boedker had a wide-open net to shoot at and made no mistake.
Patrick Maroon had a nice chance at the other end for the Oilers, but the big winger was robbed by the outstretched pad of Martin Jones - a fantastic save by the Sharks netminder.
Jones was superb again on an Oilers power play a few minutes later, making stop after stop as Edmonton gained the lead in shots on net.
At 8:55 of the second, Edmonton went down 4-1 when Talbot was beat by Boedker again for the hat trick. Boedker redirected a shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic, for his third goal of the night. Boedker came into the game with three goals on the season and doubled that amount in less than half a game.
"Not great from my standpoint," said Talbot. "I thought we played a pretty good game, we generated some chances, Jones made the saves he needed to make and I didn't. It's my job to give us a chance to win and I didn't do my job tonight."
As the Oilers attempted to claw back into the game, rookie defenceman Matthew Benning scored his second career NHL goal just 22 seconds into the third to cut the San Jose lead to 4-2. Milan Lucic had the lone assist.
At 3:45 of the period, Oscar Klefbom cut the lead once again. The Oilers blueliner hammered home a slap shot off an offensive zone draw. The goal was the defender's seventh of the season.
The celebrations were short-lived as Logan Couture scored at 5:06 of the third to push the score to 5-3. The goal was reviewed for a kicking motion, but was upheld.
With less than eight minutes remaining, the Oilers top line peppered Jones with chances in tight but the goalie stood firm, frustrating the pressing orange and blue.
"It's a tough League to come back in from a couple-goal deficit, and doing it in multiple games in a row makes it even harder," said Caggiula, referencing the team's 2-0 deficit after 20 minutes two nights prior in Ottawa.
Edmonton outshot the Sharks 28-15 over the last two periods but could not solve Jones any further.
"Not really ready to go, too slow, turnovers, no execution early in the game, and then put your foot on the gas and go after the team," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan.
"Not going to win like that."
The Oilers (21-15-7) missed their opportunity to move into first in the Pacific Division with the loss. Their next game is Thursday, at Rogers Place, against the New Jersey Devils.