The San Jose Sharks returned home Sunday night for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Edmonton Oilers. Despite out-playing the Oilers in nearly every facet of the game, the Sharks were downed by the final score of 6-3.
Game 5 saw the return of both Alyn McCauley and Milan Michalek to the Sharks lineup. McCauley skated in the team's triple overtime defeat Wednesday night, but sat out Friday’s game, while Michalek missed both contests.
Just over a minute into the contest Michael Peca was whistled for interference, giving the Sharks their first power play of the evening. The Sharks put pressure on Roloson during the two minutes, but only put one shot on net as Edmonton returned to even strength.
Edmonton first strong chance came on a breakaway after a long lead pass hit Jason Smith in stride, but the big blueliner’s wrist shot sailed wide and the Sharks escaped unharmed.
San Jose came back with an equally dangerous play when all of Edmonton’s defense shifted to Joe Thornton
on the left side of the ice. The big centerman managed to get a pass out to Scott Hannan who rifled a one-timer on goal. The shot was bobbled by Roloson, but recovered, keeping the game scoreless.
That would change on the ensuing faceoff, however, as a Sharks clearing attempt was stopped by Jaroslav Spacek. Spacek fired a slapshot on goal that was redirected past Toskala by Fernando Pisani. The Oilers led 1-0 nine minutes into the contest.
Matt Greene earned two minutes in the sin bin after he was whistled for roughing shortly after Edmonton’s goal. The Sharks headed on the power play for the second time , but couldn’t light the lamp after Roloson made an excellent save on a Michalek backhander.
The first period came to a close with Edmonton hanging on to their 1-0 lead despite the Sharks outshooting them 9-4.
Hard work by Cheechoo drew a holding call on Edmonton on the second period’s opening shift, but the Oilers penalty killers once again prevented a tying tally, although the Sharks did a much better job of setting up in the offensive zone.
The power play may not have been working, but when even strength play returned, San Jose struck. Following a faceoff win by Marcel Goc, Scott Thornton fired a puck toward Roloson. In between Thornton and Roloson was Ville Nieminen, who had parked in front of the crease. He created a screen that allowed the shot to find the back of the net and put the home team on the board.
The tied score would not last long as the Oilers responded within minutes on a power play tally. Toskala made an initial stop, but Ryan Smyth was left alone in front and he swiped in the rebound to make it 2-1 Oilers.
When Christian Ehrhoff skated the puck in deep with 11 minutes left in the second, he caught the Oilers off guard and they hooked him down behind the goal line. Just prior to the penalty expiring, an Oilers blueliner hauled down Ekman driving the net and San Jose had a four second five-on-three power play with the faceoff to the left of Roloson. After the brief five-on-three expired, the Sharks completely dominated the zone for 1:56 of five-on-four play and Roloson left a few big rebounds, but each time they fell to where the Sharks weren’t and the 2-1 lead was holding up into the later portion of the second.
Late in the second, Raffi Torres, whose cheap shot to the head of Michalek cost the Czech winger two playoff games, rammed Bernier from behind. Torres was given two minutes and the Sharks would carry the final 1:04 of the advantage into the third period.
Unfortunately for Team Teal, the Sharks gave up a shorthanded goal 12 seconds into the third. Ryan Smyth forced a turnover behind Toskala and fed Horcoff sitting alone in the slot. He calmly gathered the puck and beat Toskala high.
San Jose would not sulk and quickly responded. Still on the power play, Ehrhoff unleashed a bomb from the point that once again pulled the Sharks within one. Nieminen and Marleau assisted on the play.
San Jose then kept the crowd on their feet less than two minutes later when they tied the game. This time it was the NHL’s Maurice Richard Trophy winner Cheechoo who provided the fireworks. The right winger’s shot from the right faceoff circle put HP Pavilion into a frenzy and made it 3-3.
Just as momentum was flowing the Sharks direction, Edmonton took advantage of the Sharks enthusiasm. When the Sharks were caught pinching in the offensive zone, Edmonton took off on a two-on-one. With just one blueliner back, the Oilers perfectly executed the odd-man rush and Fernando Pisani took the pass and slammed the puck into the open net. Toskala had no chance to get over in time to prevent the 4-3 score.
San Jose was forced to kill off an Oiler power play with nine minutes left in regulation, but when a second call went against them with less than seven minutes remaining, Edmonton took advantage.
Jarret Stoll accepted a smooth cross-ice feed and snuck his shot just inside the far post to provide Edmonton their first two-goal lead. The penalty box parade continued when both Michalek and Bernier were given simultaneous minor penalties with just more than five minutes remaining.
The Oilers used the opportunity to notch their sixth goal of the night when Smyth tipped in a pass from Horcoff. The Oilers now led 6-3 with just over three minutes remaining.
The Oilers took a 3-2 series lead after their 6-3 victory and San Jose will have to find a way to steal Game 6 in Edmonton.