SAN JOSE, CA - The Oilers dive into The Shark Tank tonight in a pivotal Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks with the series knotted up at 1-1.
One of the biggest storylines going into tonight's game is weathering the storm expected from the Sharks who often have great starts at home behind a raucous home crowd. Oilers head coach Todd McLellan didn't like the term "weather."
"We want to push back, we don't want to weather. So we won't use those words. There's some things we can do early in the game that can help us in that situation," McLellan began.
"Just be prepared. We've played three games this season in this building and in all of them they got off to a pretty good start and we waded our way back in. We can expect that from them. We've got to make it a smaller push not a big long one."
For his young group of players, this is the first time they'll be playing a road playoff game together.
"Every game we play we grow a little more as a team and gain more experience. The odd-numbered games are the ones you're concerned about because in Game 1 we had no experience and in Game 2 we responded to what we didn't do well. Now we're coming into their building in (Game) 3. We don't want to learn another lesson. We'd like to solve the problem before it creeps into the game.
"Players are growing with playoff experience. There's nothing else to refer to other than the six and a little bit periods that we've played We'll have nine and maybe a little tomorrow. We'll review it and try to get ready for periods 10, 11 and 12 (Tuesday)."
Milan Lucic talked about what to expect from fans at the SAP Center.
"It's loud in the regular season so you know that it's going to go up a few notches here," he stated.
"Game 3 is a big game to see where your team is at, where the series is going and for us coming on the road here we've got to do what we've got to do to regain home ice advantage after giving it up Game 1. We need to try and build off what we did last game. We played much more of how we need to play in order to get wins in the playoffs. As the series goes on, you've got to turn it up a notch to get wins in the playoffs and that's what we need to do going into tonight's game."
STAYING OUT OF THE BOX
So far in this series, the Oilers have spent a considerable amount of time in the penalty box compared to the Sharks. McLellan talked about needing to be more disciplined, particularly in situations under the team's control.
"I think we need to listen for the whistles a little bit better because when they go, we're fine. We just get out of the way when the whistle goes, we're fine. It's taking the penalty after the whistle I'm concerned about. We'll be okay. We'll make that adjustment. You have to build into every game an errant high stick, a trip that you don't mean, a hook here, interference call there. It's gonna happen.
"Penaltyless games really don't exist so it's gonna happen. If we can take from six penalties and narrow it down to three, we'll be okay."
Milan Lucic added that the team should try and keep the stick infractions down.
"Way too many stick infractions in the first two games. With the talent they have there, eventually it's going to play to their advantage. We can't give a team with that much firepower that many opportunities on the power play. It's a fine line of being aggressive and going out of your way to make a hit. But as the series goes on, you've got to find that fine line of going out of your way to make a hit or smart play, keep your stick down and not let your emotions get the best out of you.
"Taking six penalties a game is not going to work into our favour."
Oscar Klefbom spoke with the media after the optional morning skate and said he was ready to go tonight after looking like he was in considerable pain after blocking a Brent Burns shot in the third period on Friday.
"It didn't feel very nice," said Klefbom. "Burnsie has a pretty good shot, too. It got me in a bad spot. It feels good today, I'm good to go tonight."
Klefbom skated off the ice in pain and then sat at the end of the bench for several minutes before retiring to the dressing room for the night. An MRI showed no damage.
"It felt really bad on the bench. (After) we took a few pictures and they looked good. It's just a matter of how much pain I have to play with. It felt like it was a fracture, actually. I'm really lucky it wasn't."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (1-1) at SHARKS (1-1)
TV: 8:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet
After two wild games at Rogers Place which saw the two teams come out of it tied 1-1, the Oilers and Sharks now shift their scene to Northern California where Games 3 and 4 will take place.
Edmonton drew a lot of energy from the crowd in the first two games, registering 90 hits combined in both. The Sharks will be re-energized by their legendy fans at the Shark Tank so a big storyline will be how the Oilers respond to that.
OILERS KEYS TO SUCCESS:
PUSH BACK: San Jose is known for its fast starts in the Shark Tank. If the Oilers can withstand the pressure, like they did in their game late in the season, they will be in a good position.
KEEP KILLING: The Oilers penalty kill has been outstanding so far in this series, operating at a 91.7% efficiency. San Jose has only one power play goal in the series while the Oilers have two shorthanded markers.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX: Edmonton has taken 13 penalties so far through two games while San Jose has only taken eight. The Oilers need to remain physical while not giving the Sharks so many power plays.
Edmonton: The Oilers are healthy with the exception of Tyler Pitlick, who's out for the season. Coach McLellan said after the game that Oscar Klefbom, who hurt his leg blocking a Brent Burns shot with 10 minutes left in the third period, should be fine to play tonight.
San Jose: Joe Thornton (lower body) remains day-to-day.
This series is about as pure of a toss-up as you can get, particularly Game 3. A best-of-seven series has been tied 1-1 394 times in the NHL's history with the home team and visiting team each winning 147 times in Game 3. All-time, the team which started the series at home, goes on to win a 1-1 tied series 53.7% of the time (158-136). When you factor in teams which lost Game 1 but won Game 2, that team has gone on to win the series 54.7% of the time (35-29).
The Oilers scored two shorthanded goals in a game for the first time since 1985. ... As per Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, Friday was only the second time in NHL history that a team won a game 2-0 with both goals being shorthanded. The first was in 2003 when Anaheim defeated Minnesota on shorthanded goals by Rob Niedermayer and Kurt Sauer.
"Their power play isn't going to be what it was (Friday); they'll get it fixed and repaired and it will become lethal. If we continue on the path we are, it'll cost us." -- Oilers head coach Todd McLellan on the Sharks power play which has struggled to score and gave up two shorthanded goals on Friday.
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
Apr 12: San Jose 3 at Edmonton 2 (OT) Apr 14: San Jose 0 at Edmonton 2 Apr 16: Edmonton at San Jose - 8:00 p.m. MDT Apr 18: Edmonton at San Jose - 8:00 p.m. MDT Apr 20: San Jose at Edmonton - 8:30 p.m. MDT Apr 22: Edmonton at San Jose - TBD Apr 24: San Jose at Edmonton - TBD
Edmonton won the season series this year 3-1-1
Dec 23: Edmonton 2 at San Jose 3 (OT) Jan 10: San Jose 5 at Edmonton 3 Jan 26: Edmonton 4 at San Jose 1 Mar 30: San Jose 2 at Edmonton 3 Apr 6: Edmonton 4 at San Jose 2
In 2006, Edmonton defeated San Jose 4 games to 2 in the only playoff match-up ever between the two teams
May 7: Edmonton 1 at San Jose 2 May 8: Edmonton 1 at San Jose 2 May 10: San Jose 2 at Edmonton 3 (3OT) May 12: San Jose 3 at Edmonton 6 May 14: Edmonton 6 at San Jose 3 May 17: San Jose 0 at Edmonton 2