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PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Sharks - Game 1

In today's Boston Pizza Preview, the Oilers open the playoffs at home against the Sharks

by Paul Gazzola & Marc Ciampa / EdmontonOilers.com

 Video: OILERS TODAY | Game 1 Preview

The Oilers open their series in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight against the San Jose Sharks. 

You can watch the game across Canada on Sportsnet or listen via 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network. 

Read the game preview and check back throughout the day for lineup updates, videos and more. 

Video: PART 1 | Oilers Coverage

 Watch Part 2 | Watch Part 3

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Tuesday's Oilers practice and media availability.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - 3,952.

That's how many days have passed since the city of Edmonton and the Oilers last hosted a National Hockey League playoff game.

Wednesday night at Rogers Place, the wait ends.

"First playoff game in Edmonton since 2006 and first playoff game for a lot of guys in this room," said Oilers winger Milan Lucic. "It's inevitable that the nerves are going to be there… Even going into my ninth year in the playoffs, you still kind of get that feeling."

The Orange & Blue have met the Sharks only one time in the post-season. That happened to be in 2006, when the squads clashed in the Western Conference Semifinals. Edmonton dropped the first two games of that series but riding the energetic Oilers fan base, won the following four to advance. 

"The last time the Oilers were in the playoffs, I was on the (Detroit) Red Wings bench and we ended up losing in six games to them in the first round," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "You could feel the momentum building for the Oilers in that initial round and they ended up beating us and going on and having a good run. The city just became frantic with Oiler passion. You got a sense of how passionate everybody became in the city."

As far as post-season experience goes - considered a moot point over the last few days - the Oilers Wednesday night roster boasts 308 playoff game experience while the Sharks have 1,169.

"You've got to play your first game to say you've played it and you've got to play in your first series to gain experience," said McLellan.

Edmonton is 17-7 all-time in Game 1 on home ice.

A DIFFERENT BEAST

The Oilers and Sharks met five times during the regular season. Edmonton took the season series 3-1-1, defeating San Jose twice in their last six games of the campaign. Head-to-head in 2016-17, the Oilers outscored their opponent 16-13, finishing with a 16.7 percent power play and 93.8 percent penalty kill. Connor McDavid had four goals and four assists in the five games, while Oscar Klefbom - after registering four assists in their final meeting - ended the season series with one goal and five assists.

The playoffs, however, are a different beast.

The Oil, winners of 12 of their last 14 including nine straight at home and benefitting from the ridiculous 25 points Art Ross Trophy titleholder McDavid has accrued during his 14-game points streak, aren't looking to change much.

"It's obviously a little bit of a different game but hopefully I'll just keep playing my game, it's made me successful so far and I'm not going to change much," said the Oilers Captain, who will be playing in front of his parents. 

SHARKS SHAKEN UP

San Jose forwards Logan Couture and Joe Thornton are game-time decisions, as per Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer. Couture's been nursing a jaw injury after taking a deflected slap shot to the mouth against the Nashville Predators on March 25. Thornton injured his leg against the Vancouver Canucks on April 2.

"Both of them are skating this morning and then we'll decide at game time," said DeBoer.

Although looking forward to playing Round One in a Canadian market, Couture is expecting a difficult series against a tough team.

"Playing in Canada is fun," said Couture, with the wires on his bottom teeth shining covertly. "We look forward to the challenge."

As far as his personal health goes, the centreman says he feels good and ready to compete.

"I've had two and a half weeks of rest so I felt pretty good this morning," he said.

He'll navigate the game looking through the cage attached to his helmet, a precautionary measure to prevent his jaw from getting hit.

"It's been a while, 13 years or so since I've had one of those things on but it's just extra protection for me."

LINEUP NOTES

McLellan said the lineup will become public during warmups. However, the lines they iced Tuesday during practice are as follows:

Maroon - McDavid - Draisaitl

Lucic - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle

Caggiula - Letestu - Kassian

Pouliot - Desharnais - Pakarinen

Klefbom - Larsson

Sekera - Russell

Nurse - Gryba

Talbot

Brossoit

-- Paul Gazzola, edmontonoilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (47-26-9) vs. SHARKS (46-29-7)

TV: 8:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet

After 11 years, the Edmonton Oilers have finally returned to the playoffs and they've done it in style. With 103 points, they've topped the century mark for the first time since 1986-87 and they're enjoying home ice advantage in the playoffs for the first time since facing the Minnesota North Stars in the 1991 Campbell Conference Finals. 

OILERS KEYS TO SUCCESS:

  • TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HOME ICE: San Jose was very good at home this season with a record of 26-11-4 but on the road they were only 20-18-3. The Oilers will have well over 18,000 screaming fans tonight in orange giving them an edge.
  • FINISH STRONG: The Sharks allowed 79 goals in the third period this season and only 52 in the opening frame. The Oilers are going to need to weather the storm early and then pounce on the Sharks late.
  • SPECIAL TEAMS: Edmonton's power play was 22.9% during the season, good enough for fifth in the NHL while the Sharks were only 16.7% (25th in the NHL). 

ROSTER UPDATES:

Edmonton: The Oilers are healthy with the exception of Tyler Pitlick, who's out for the season. 

San Jose: Joe Thornton (lower body) and Logan Couture (face) both were injured late in the season. Both have a chance to play tonight, with Couture more likely than Thornton. 

Tweet from @Bob_Stauffer: Oilers vs SJ this season:Talbot: 3-1-1, 2.60 GAA,.912 SVPMcDavid: 4-4-8Klefbom: 1-5-6Lucic: 3-1-4Caggiula: 2-1-3Maroon: 3-0-3

FAST FACTS:

This season, 2016-17, marks the 21st appearance in the NHL post-season for the Oilers. The last time the Oilers finished in the NHL top ten was in 1989-90, when the team finished fifth. The Oilers finished 11th in 1990-91 and 12th in 1991-92 and 2000-01. The last time the Oilers had 44 wins or more in a season was in 1987-88.

With two assists on Apr. 9 against Vancouver, Connor McDavid is now on a career-high 14-game scoring streak (7G, 17A, 24PTS). He has posted eight multi-point efforts in that span, three of which were three-point games. McDavid captured the NHL scoring race and Art Ross Trophy, with 100 points (30G, 70A) in 82 games. McDavid led the league in scoring at some point in all seven months of the 2016-17 season. He led or co-led the NHL in scoring since Nov. 22, 2016.

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Connor McDavid

QUOTABLE: 

"It's definitely more so than usual. The fans are excited. It's been a long time for them since the Oilers have been in the playoffs. They've stuck by us the whole way through. Now they're finally starting to see some reward here. It's definitely an exciting time for us as players but also the whole city." -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

HEAD-TO-HEAD: 

Series Tied 0-0

Apr 12: San Jose at Edmonton - 8:00 p.m. MDT

Apr 14: San Jose at Edmonton - 8:30 p.m. MDT

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 - TBD

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

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