EDMONTON, AB -
The Oilers snapped a long home-ice scoreless streak, but were unable to dig themselves out of an early hole as the San Jose Sharks took their third straight win, a 3-1 decision over Edmonton.
"I thought the game was three stages," said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. "I thought the first period, we were hesitant. Knowing what kind of team they are, you look at their record, you go through the pre-scout and pass it on. I just thought we were playing a little nervous early. We were afraid to make a mistake early. I thought that carried right through the first period.
A Ryan Smyth hooking penalty gave the Sharks the man advantage towards the end of the first period. A shot by Joe Thornton rebounded out to the left of Oilers' goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The goalie got spun around and an awaiting Joe Pavelski put home the rebound into the wide-open net. Patrick Marleau earned the secondary assist.
With his assist, Thornton stretched his point scoring streak to seven-straight games.
With 2:47 remaining in the opening frame, Thornton took the puck from behind the Oilers net and then found the sensational rookie Tomas Hertl for his 12th goal of the season, giving San Jose the 2-0 lead early. Hertl, the 17th overall pick in 2012, leads all NHL rookies in scoring this season.
The Shark attack continued in the second period. Just 3:45 into the middle frame, San Jose had a 2-on-1 rush in the Oilers zone and Jason Demers found Marleau with a perfect pass and the winger buried his first goal, second point of the night. It was his tenth goal of the season.
The Oilers responded with some inspired offensive shifts following that goal. Smyth had an opportunity to deliver a much needed goal with a wide-open net and a wraparound attempt but the puck stayed out. Then, forward David Perron would strike the post on an excellent opportunity.
That chance was followed by a tic-tac-toe 3-on-1 passing drill that was mishandled out in front of Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock.
Then came the, much-needed, much-anticipated and much-delayed, Oilers goal which would end their scoreless streak, at home, at 214 minutes and 52 seconds.
On the power play, Ales Hemsky passed the puck inside to Sam Gagner, who's shot rebounded out to the far circle. Nail Yakupov blistered the puck past Stalock, erupting the Rexall Place crowd into cheers. Yakupov has scored three goals this season, all three of which have been on the power play.
"In the second, I thought we played great," Eakins stated. "We found our game and we found our legs. We got going and were able to match them and maybe even have the upper hand in the period."
The Oilers had entered the game on the backs of three-straight shutout losses at home, a first for the franchise in their history.
San Jose's Logan Couture rang a top-shelf shot off of the cross bar and post, then out, to start the third period off with a bang but the score remained 3-1.
"In the third period I thought we stayed in the fight," Eakins remarked. "More good than bad, for sure. Then once again, some individual mistakes that we're trying to pull out of guys' games that ended up hurting us."
The Oilers would not be able to inch closer to the Sharks after digging that early 3-0 deficit. Edmonton was out-shot 37-31 in the loss.