SAN JOSE, CA - The Edmonton Oilers wrap up a short two-game road trip tonight against the San Jose Sharks. There will be a few lineup changes as several players return from injury.
BOYD GORDON RETURNS
Boyd Gordon comes back after missing the last five games due to a back injury.
"I’ve had a good couple days skating with the guys and things feel pretty good, so I’m excited to get back playing," Gordon said after practice on Wednesday. “Sometimes your body gets a bit run down, and it was one of those situations where I needed to take some time to get (my back) better and close to 100%. It’s felt good the last couple skates and held up pretty well. "
Matt Hendricks will shift back to the wing and Luke Gazdic draws out of the lineup. Line combinations up front:
Also returning from injury is Oscar Klefbom, who has missed the last few games after blocking a shot off his foot.
"I'm going to play tonight," he said. "The foot feels a lot better. It's not great but it's absolutely good to go."
Klefbom will be paired with Mark Fayne on the blueline. Jeff Petry will skate with Andrew Ference and Brad Hunt with Justin Schultz.
"We know we have to be smart out there. They have some powerful guys. We may need to go for the puck instead of the body in some situations," said Klefbom.
NELSON PICKS UP THE PACE
Coach Todd Nelson talked about what he wants to see from the team tonight.
“I want to see us pick it up from where we left off in the third period. Go out there and play to win, have some good offence and get pucks going to the net and get some traffic. I think that’s going to eventually pay off for us,” he began.
“As long as we keep it simple and keep pucks going to the net, we should be fine.”
The Oilers interim head coach also talked about picking up the pace at practice.
“We had a high-tempo paced practice yesterday and guys were really moving their feet,” said Nelson. “It followed into the pre-game skate today and hope that translates into the game tonight. We think the tempo has to be increased and we’re working on that right now.” -- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (7-19-6) at SHARKS (17-11-4)
TV: SN360, CSN-CA
Season series: The Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks have split the first two of this five-game set. Joe Pavelski scored twice in San Jose's 5-2 win against Edmonton at SAP Center on Dec. 9.
Oilers team scope: Interim coaches Craig MacTavish and Todd Nelson ran their first full day of practice Wednesday, one day after Edmonton dropped a 2-1 overtime decision at the Arizona Coyotes. The Oilers, who allowed 27 shots on goal in the second period, haven't scored more than two goals in a game since Nov. 28, a span of eight games. "It's one of the things we want to get better at, obviously," Nelson said of generating offense. "Everybody talks about throwing pucks to the net and [creating] more traffic, and we're trying to do that. We're trying to funnel pucks to the net, have a good net-front presence. Our power play plays a part of that as well. I thought our power play was pretty good [Tuesday] night. The only thing wrong with it was we didn't score. We had some good chances, we had some good looks. We've just got to find a way to bury the puck, so those things we've got to continue to work on and just get to a point where the guys feel good shooting the puck and hitting their mark." Center Boyd Gordon (back) hopes to play against the Sharks and will be re-evaluated Thursday morning. Defenseman Oscar Klefbom (foot) "might be a bit further away," Nelson said.
Sharks team scope: Thursday marks the fourth of a five-game homestand for San Jose, which is 3-0-0 thus far and has allowed three goals. The Sharks earned a 2-0 win against the Nashville Predators on Saturday behind a 29-save performance from Antti Niemi. After a sluggish start, the Sharks have won seven of their past eight games. "Normally, at the beginning of the season I think it takes 15-20 games for all the teams to get all their players and all their systems down," defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic told the San Jose Mercury News. "And now you're starting to see that from us. Maybe it took 30 games, maybe 25." San Jose forwards Matt Nieto (ankle), Tyler Kennedy (arm) and Mike Brown (lower body) are on injured reserve.