The Oilers will hit the road once more to take on the Minnesota Wild, Thursday at 6 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – Lack of “polish” was what Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan felt led to the Oilers 3-0 home loss to the San Jose Sharks. While McLellan’s team outshot the visitors 31-22 and had their share of chances, they were a bit off right from the start and it showed on the scoreboard.
“It was a frustrating night, really, because I thought we had some real good chances in and around their net, right in the crease area and right off the bat we had a few,” said McLellan. “(James) Reimer made some good saves, but we missed the net on some real good chances and I think that’s a reflection on our game. We didn’t have a lot of polish.
“We didn’t put two passes together, we had 3-on-1s and were falling down, the first goal on Cam usually he handles that well. To a man, we weren’t real polished. You can create as many chances if you want but if you don’t have that sharpness and that acute awareness of what’s going on around you then you’re probably not going to put it in the net. Then it usually comes back to bite you on the other end and it did at both ends tonight.”
The Sharks jumped ahead early in the game, capitalizing on a loose puck in the crease just 93 seconds after puck-drop. Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot lost the puck underneath him and Logan Couture found it, potting his ninth of the season with Joonas Donskoi and Brent Burns assisting.
The quick goal by the Sharks was a difficult pill to swallow for an Oilers team that was hopeful for a fast start, with San Jose on the tail end of a back-to-back.
“We hung our heads and we just deflated,” said Oilers winger Patrick Maroon. “We didn’t play a good hockey game at all. When they get a goal, you just see our bench deflate and it was like, ‘here we go again.’ I think we’ve got to respond better than that. We’ve got to play better hockey and hold each other accountable. It’s a hard league, but it can’t be individual stuff. We have to play together and as a group.”
Couture ripped a shot past Talbot for his second of the night, on the power play, at 15:50 of the first. That goal came just 10 seconds into a Jordan Eberle tripping penalty. Couture was assisted by Burns and Joe Pavelski.
Despite outshooting San Jose 12-9 through the first, the Oilers found themselves down by two goals heading into the second.
“We had some good shifts tonight and certainly some chances, but we weren’t sharp enough early on and it cost us,” said Oilers winger Taylor Hall.
The Oilers got an opportunity to inch closer to their opponents when Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a cross-checking penalty two minutes into the second. The Oilers didn’t register a shot on that man advantage with San Jose’s penalty kill rising to the occasion.
At 14:03 of the second the Sharks managed to gain a little more cushion, as Pavelski redirected a Paul Martin point shot past Talbot to increase San Jose’s lead to 3-0. Joe Thornton earned the second assist.
With 2:40 left in the second, Zack Kassian had a chance with Nail Yakupov on an odd-man rush but tripped up after he crossed the blueline.
Talbot made a big save on Donskoi in the final minute of the second period, following a Sharks 2-on-1 rush, sliding across the crease to make a backdoor save.
McLellan jumbled the lines heading into the third and the trio of Maroon, Leon Draisaitl and Eberle generated some of the best chances of the night early in the final frame.
Late in the third, Sharks defenceman Roman Polak was involved in a collision with Oilers winger Matt Hendricks behind the net. Polak received an interference penalty and Hendricks was shaken up. Once Polak was out of the box, Edmonton defenceman Darnell Nurse fought the Sharks player, drawing blood in the scrap.
“I thought that was a great job,” Maroon said of the rookie blueliner’s response. “I think we need more of that. I think moving forward, it doesn’t matter what kind of player you are. Go in there, grab the guy and just hold him, even if it’s just a skilled guy. That just shows team toughness and shows the character in the room and that you care about the player beside you so I think we need more of that.”
The Oilers had some jump in the third, but were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. San Jose carried their three-goal lead until the end.
“The execution wasn’t there all night, offensively or defensively,” said Oilers defenceman Mark Fayne. “We were just a little bit off. You can’t really win games that way.”
Reimer recorded his first shutout win since October 29, 2013. That game was also against the Oilers at Rexall Place. The Oilers next hit the road for one game, playing the Wild in Minnesota on Thursday. Game time is 6 p.m. MT.