EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers prepare for what could be the penultimate game of their saga against the Sharks Thursday night at Rogers Place. The series is tied 2-2 after Edmonton suffered a 7-0 loss in Game 4 at SAP Center in San Jose.
Now, just three games could decide the series. If it goes the distance and takes all three contests to determine who prevails, the Oil are happy to have two of the three at home in Edmonton.
"You got to put the last one behind us but it's three games," said Oilers winger Jordan Eberle. "We worked hard all season to get home ice and we need to perform here."
The Orange & Blue have proven to be a good rebound team over the course of the season. They'll look to continue that characteristic tonight in Game 5.
"I fully expect us back and going tonight after a tough game," said Eberle.
NEW LOOK LINES
There's a new complexion to the Oilers forward group based on the line rushes at the morning skate.
Forward Drake Caggiula was slotted on the top line alongside offensive dynamos Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Patrick Maroon - who usually flanks McDavid on his left side - skated with Mark Letestu and Zack Kassian on the third unit.
"We had to make a few changes," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "7-0 is probably better than 1-0 and it forced us to look at some things a little bit differently."
Although briefly, Caggiula has played alongside Draisaitl and McDavid before. The rookie said McDavid has been vocal with him in the past in regards to how they want to administer their offence as a line.
"In situations like this when I get bumped up to his line, he's always been really good with communicating with me and telling me different things of what he sees," said Caggiula.
With the knowledge of what type of game Caggiula plays, Draisaitl believes he and McDavid will have to help him out to ensure they get the offence going. Draisaitl has been held off the scoresheet all series, registering only one shot on goal in four games. McDavid has recorded a goal and an assist for two points but has been unable to generate at 5-on-5.
"He can shoot the puck, he's a feisty guy, likes to go to the dirty areas," said Draisaitl of his new linemate. "We have to make sure we help him out if we can get some chemistry going."
Maroon, meanwhile, moves to an energizing third line that features Kassian, who's been one of Edmonton's best players this series. They'll look to throw their weight around on the forecheck as the team did in Games 1 and 2.
"Patty and Leon's size has been a very useful tool throughout the year but we haven't gotten to the point where we can actually use it in their end that much," said McLellan.
STICK TO THE PLAN
The Oilers have said it time and time again after almost every game: they must stay out of the box and keep their shift length in line if they want to be successful. That hasn't changed.
"That group over there, their power play's been together for seven or eight years," said Eberle. "Eventually they were going to get hot and they just got hot altogether."
San Jose went 4-for-8 on the power play in their 7-0 routing over Edmonton on Tuesday. Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau had 10 points combined, meaning the dangerous offensive bite of the Sharks flashed their teeth.
In sticking with the plan, though, if Edmonton remains disciplined and rolls their lines like they typically do, that should help in thwarting the circling Sharks.
"We got to make sure we stay out of the box, that way we can get four lines running and get back to our game," Eberle said.
Based on the lines rushes at the morning skate, Edmonton's lineup appears to be:
Caggiula - McDavid - Draisaitl
Lucic - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Maroon - Letestu - Kassian
Pouliot - Desharnais - Slepyshev
Klefbom - Larsson
Sekera - Russell
Nurse - Benning
-- Paul Gazzola, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (2-2) vs. SHARKS (2-2)
TV: 8:30 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet
After a tough 7-0 defeat in San Jose, the Oilers have regrouped and are ready for a home game with the series tied 2-2.
Despite the lopsided loss, right now Edmonton does still remain in a good position with the series now a best-of-three situation and two games at Rogers Place. But it all starts tonight and a loss would mean that the Oilers are facing elimination on Saturday night in hostile territory.
OILERS KEYS TO SUCCESS:
FAST START: In all four games, the Sharks have come out of the gate as the better team. The Oilers are hoping for a stronger start tonight, particularly in front of their home fans.
DISCIPLINE: San Jose's power play has caught fire and meanwhile the Oilers rank last among all playoff teams in penalties per game.
POWER PLAY: The Oilers are in need of offence and having their power play catch fire is a good way to find it. They only have one power play goal in 12 tries so far in this postseason, which ranks second-last among playoff teams.
Edmonton: Tyler Pitlick is out for the season and recently recalled Jordan Oesterle is also injured.
San Jose: The Sharks don't have any players who may miss tonight's game due to injury.
The Oilers have played a Game 5 in their history with a series tied 2-2 nine times. The six times that they won Game 5 they went on to win the series and the three times that they lost Game 5 they went on to lose the series. In the history of the NHL where a series is tied 2-2, the team with home-ice advantage has gone on to win the series 58.8% of the time (144-100).
The Oilers did not allow seven goals in a game once during the regular season. In all three games in which the Oilers allowed six goals, they only allowed two goals in the following game, with two wins and one overtime loss. The Oilers were only shut out three times in the 2016-17 regular season, which includes one game which the Oilers won in a shootout at Montreal. The last time the Oilers suffered two consecutive losses in 2016-17 was on February 24 and 26 when they lost 2-1 in Washington then 5-4 in Nashville.
"They had a push. There was obvious desperation in their game. We put them on the power play way too often. A group like that that's been to the Stanley Cup Final, their belief system is pretty strong. You put their big boys on the power play enough, they're going to find a way. We have to start limiting those opportunities." -- Mark Letestu
Series Tied 2-2
Apr 12: San Jose 3 at Edmonton 2 (OT) Apr 14: San Jose 0 at Edmonton 2 Apr 16: Edmonton 1 at San Jose 0 Apr 18: Edmonton 0 at San Jose 7 Apr 20: San Jose at Edmonton - 8:30 p.m. MDT Apr 22: Edmonton at San Jose - 8:30 p.m. MDT Apr 24: San Jose at Edmonton - If Necessary
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