San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (22) scores the shootout winning goal against Edmonton Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk in the Sharks 4-3 win Wednesday Night in Edmonton, AB. Manditory Credit: The Canadian Press

Sharks Rally to Force OT, Beat Oilers in Shootout 4-3

A Rare Rally- Logan Couture scored two goals, Tommy Wingles added the game tying goal late in the third, and Dan Boyle netted the Game Winning Goal in the Shootout. These three events together allowed the Sharks to rally from two goals down in the third period to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. It’s has not been too often this season that the Sharks have been able to come back down from two goals in most games this season. The Sharks looked to be in fairly big trouble again in the third period when they were able to find another gear and start the comeback during a power play opportunity. The win snapped a two game losing streak and marked only the fifth time the Sharks have won a road game this season, only having won two of the previous of the previous 13 games away from the Shark Tank.

Couture’s two goals were instrumental as his first score tied the game late in the first period and sparked the comeback that would lead the Sharks to a rare yet badly needed victory. The Sharks remain in 8th place in the Western Conference Standings, giving them a two point lead over Phoenix and Columbus. The Sharks lead the Oilers and the Dallas Stars by three points in what could be a very tight race the rest of the way. For the Sharks to remain in this race they must find some way to get some consistency going on this team if they hope for any kind of post season appearance.

Puck Drop Brings A Head of Steam-  Both teams took charge early in the game. The Sharks would challenge the Oilers and their net minder Devan Dubnyk. Likewise the Oilers also would test Antti Niemi early as well. Early on Brad Stuart dove in front of Ales Hemsky to block a shot to the left of Niemi where a good portion of the net was exposed. Stuart blocked what for a second appeared to be an almost certain Oilers goal. Meanwhile attempts by James Sheppard and Joe Thornton challenged Dubnyk as both had good scoring chances. The Sharks also had penalty trouble early as the officials seemed to be all over everything they felt team teal was doing wrong or improper. The first penalty call was on Douglas Murray for interference. The Sharks penalty kill unit kept the Oilers from getting any sustained pressure in team teal’s defensive zone. After killing off this first penalty, the Sharks would soon find themselves having to do it a second time as Boyle was whistled for tripping.

The second time around for the Sharks penalty kill unit did not go as well as the first one did. Sam Gagne would put the Oilers up 1-0 drilling a slap shot past a well screened out Niemi. The Oilers would keep the pressure on the Sharks after their successful power play as veteran Ryan Smyth just missed putting Edmonton up by two as Niemi had to dive quickly on a rap around attempt that narrowly missed going in the net.  Moments later the Sharks were to get some offensive opportunities on the Oilers defensive side of the ice. On a face off won by the Sharks Martin Havlat took control of the puck. Havlat would find Couture in front of the Oilers net and fed him with a short pass. Couture got the pass put the puck directly on the net. Dubnyk looked like he was trying to catch a knuckleball as he fell backwards into the goal along with the puck. It appeared at first that Joe Pavelski had stuffed the puck past Dubnyk. The goal would later be credited to Couture. The Sharks outshot the Oilers 9-5 and had the better of the opportunities throughout the period.

Havlat’s Less Than Excellent Adventure- Havlat’s period seemingly got off do a decent start as he drilled a slap shot from the right point that almost beat Dubnyk. Couture at the goal just missed getting to the rebound. Unfortunately for team teal and Havlat, the Sharks would soon find more trouble with the officials. Team teal would spend part of the middle period having to kill off an Edmonton four minute power play. This was the result of Havlat being called for interference when he stepped in front of Taylor Hall, who dropped to the ground as if Mike Tyson had just hit him. After trying to discuss and reason the call with the officials, they gave Havlat another minor penalty for unsportsman like conduct and 10 additional minutes for misconduct. However the Sharks penalty kill units looked for and found redemption as they worked together to kill off all four minutes of the Oilers’ extended power play. Later in the period team teal would finally get a power play opportunity of their own when Justin Schultz drew an interference penalty. This opportunity would come up dry as so many have for the Sharks this season. After Couture’s last second scoring attempt beat Dubnyk but hit the goal post, the penalty expired and the puck caromed and found it’s way to Schultz who was exiting the penalty box. This led to a breakaway that the Sharks were not fast enough to defend. Schultz passed the puck to Horcroff who easily beat an outmanned Niemi to give Edmonton a one goal lead. The rest of the period saw both teams trading scoring opportunities. Towards the end of the period the Sharks would get hit with the penalty bug once again. Wingles trying to clear the rubber biscuit out of the Sharks defensive zone accidentally flipped the puck out of play and drew a two minute minor for delay of game. The Sharks killed all but the final 31 seconds of the penalty as it carried over to the third period.

Metal and Fortitude- The Sharks started the third period by killing off the final seconds of Wingles penalty. Team teal from there was looking to jockey for position but the Oilers remained scrappy and were giving team teal all they could handle early. With just over four minutes gone in the period, on a Sharks defensive zone face off Ryan Jones came up from behind Matt Irwin and stole the puck from him near the Sharks goal. Jones then managed to wrap the rubber biscuit around the net and knock it past a surprised Niemi to put Edmonton up by two. Part of the play was heads up by Jones who caught the Sharks napping at one of the most inopportune times. Just over two minutes later the Sharks would get another power play opportunity as the Oilers Ryan Whitney was send to the penalty box for a minor interference infraction. The Sharks were able to get the control of the puck and keep it around the Oilers goal. In an almost rugby like scramble, Couture was able to get the rubber biscuit out to Boyle. From there Boyle at the slot passed it back to Couture who had skated back from the crowd around the net. Couture took Boyles pass and drilled the puck past Dubnyk to cut the Oilers lead back to one at 3-2.

Moments later the Sharks in another fight for the puck managed to keep it inside the Oilers defensive zone. TJ Galiardi won the battle for the puck against the boards and was able to get it over to a wide open Wingles who turned around and drilled a snap shot past Dubnyk to tie the game. The Sharks and Oilers would exchange scoring chances the rest of the way with team teal getting the better of the opportunities. The Sharks would outshot the Oilers 17-12 in the final regulation frame. In the overtime Niemi made two saves including one on a blistering shot on goal from Gagne.

Shootout #9- In the shootout period after Jordan Eberle put the Oilers in front in the second round, Couture and his hot hand evened the skill competition at a goal a piece. After Niemi turned away Hemsky, Boyle was able to get Dubnyk to commit and waited until he had the Oilers netmider just out of position enough to deposit the puck across the goal crease and into the far left side of the net.

Shark Bytes- The 3 Stars of the game were 3) Ryan Jones (Oilers); 2) Logan Couture (Sharks); 1) Shawn Horcoff (Oilers). The Sharks won all three match up against the Oilers this season, with two of the three decided in a shootout period. The Sharks started the season with wins in Calgary (4-1), and in their previous visit to Edmonton (6-3, all six Sharks goals scored in the first period). Since then, before this game the Sharks were a dreadful 2-9-2 mark on the road. Sharks leaders in goals this season are Patrick Marleau (15), Logan Couture (14), Joe Pavelski (7), Joe Thornton (5), Matt Irwin (5), and Dan Boyle (4). Niemi with the win is now 12-7-5 as a starter. Michal Handzus, Ryane Clowe and Jason Demers were scratches for the Sharks. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed the game as he had earlier in the day came down with the flu.

Next Sharks Game- Saturday (3/23) 11am PDT, 1pm CDT at Minnesota to take on the Wild. The Sharks will face former team mates Devin Setoguchi, Torrey Mitchell, Dany Heatley and former Sharks number one draft choice Charlie Coyle. It will be the first of three meeting with the Wild. The next two after this are April 3rd and the 18th, both at the Shark Tank.

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