Sharks Taking Care of Their Business- The Sharks came into Rexall Place in Edmonton with one thing in mind Friday Night, just “Take Care of Business.” That’s exactly what Team Teal did. Just 24 hours after pulling one out of the fire in Vancouver, the Sharks handled the slumping Edmonton Oilers 3-1. Alex Stalock started in goal for the Sharks and made 30 saves, 24 coming in the final two periods. Though the Sharks were in control of the game for much of the evening, the Oilers did put up a fight over the final two periods and gave the Sharks a run for the money when given the opportunity. The Sharks controlled the opening period outshooting Edmonton 14-6 setting the tone for the evening. Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau all scored for the Sharks while Captain Joe Thornton had an assist on all three goals. With the win the Sharks have captured their third straight game as they swept Western Canada with wins in Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton on the same road trip for the first time in the franchise’s 22 year history. The Sharks now ride the momentum they have built in Western Canada into Chicago where they will meet the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks for the first time this season on Sunday.
Dukes of Oil- The Sharks got to work off the opening faceoff in testing Oilers net minder Devan Dubnyk early and often. Logan Couture had two shots on goal with the first 30 seconds by himself. Dubnyk for a good portion of the opening period did a solid job at protecting his net as he fended off a good number of rubber provided by shots on goal from Dan Boyle, Justin Braun, Couture, Hertl and Marleau. With just over five minutes remaining in the opening period the Oilers Ryan Smyth would draw a hooking penalty putting the Sharks on the Power Play. Just 45 seconds into the man advantage Pavelski notched his seventh goal of the season as he backhanded a shot into an open area of the Oilers goal as Dubnyk was interfered with by one of his own teammates after fending off a wrist shot from Marleau. Less than a minute and a half later the Sharks would increase their lead to two when Tomas Hertl took a perfect feed pass from Thornton behind the Edmonton goal and tipped it past Dubnyk. Tommy Wingles also assisted on this goal as well. The Sharks would end the first period up two goals and with a good amount of momentum built up against the struggling Oilers. The second period would begin the same way the first one ended with Team Teal launching more hot rubber biscuits towards Dubnyk. The Sharks used another power play to build of a good deal of offensive pressure entering the period. The Sharks would not score on the man advantage yet remained in control of the puck in Oilers defensive zone. At the 3:45 mark of the middle period Marleau would score as the Sharks were able to take advantage of a breakaway off of a blocked Oilers pass in their own zone. Thornton would lead the breakaway before passing the puck to Jason Demers as the Sharks entered Edmonton’s zone. Demers would then feed Marleau who was flanked to his right. Marleau launched the puck and beat Dubnyk top shelf.
The Oilers Never Quit- Despite being down 3-0 and being in a horrific team slump that has stretched over several games the Oilers never gave up on the game and soon after Marleau’s goal would try to take some of the momentum back. At one juncture in the middle period the Sharks were outshooting the Oilers 9-2. From that point Edmonton would start to come on strong and outshoot the Sharks 13-6 over the remainder of the period. The Oilers however had some very hard luck to go along with it. During the Oilers onslaught Ryan Smyth would miss what would have been a certain goal when a wrap around shot attempt with Stalock out of position somehow did not completely cross the goal line. The puck seemed to just slow down once it came off of Smyth’s stick allowing Stalock time to smother the puck before it crossed the line. Later in the period the Oilers David Perron drilled a slap shot that hit the goal post to Stalock’s left. At the 11:48 mark of the second period Brad Stuart was sent to the penalty box for a cross checking penalty that would send Edmonton on a power play. One minute into the man advantage Nail Yakupov would get the Oilers on the scoreboard as he was able to drive a bouncing puck past Stalock. Despite the Oilers onslaught Stalock would quickly reassert himself and was able to stop later scoring bids from Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov. The third period saw the Sharks take a more defensive approach to the contest and limit the number of quality scoring chances for the Oilers. Despite getting 10 shots on goal, Edmonton could not solve Stalock. So tight was the Sharks defensive play in the final period that the Oilers did not even get a shot on goal in the final three minutes of the game even after they pulled Dubnyk for an extra attacker. Stalock picked up the win in net for the Sharks while Antti Niemi got the game off after starting Thursday night in Vancouver. Niemi will be now well rested when the Sharks visit Chicago. He will need to be.
A Tight Race In the Pacific Division- With the win over Edmonton the Sharks improved their overall record to 13-2-5 with 31 points in the standings. The Sharks in the Pacific as of the end of play on Friday evening trail the first place Anaheim Ducks by one point. The Ducks and Sharks are also currently first and second in the overall Western Conference Standings, with the Sharks one point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks whom they will face on the final leg of this five game road trip Sunday. First place to eight place in the Pacific Division are separated by just five points. Look for things in the Pacific Division to be tight all season long. The Western Conference race may be just as tight as well. In 20 regular seasons (one game short of the 1/4 mark of the season) the Sharks have picked up points in the standings in all but two games this season, and just missed on one of those by literally a split second (in Boston). This will be a key for Team Teal all season long as playoff positioning will get harder as the regular season moves along. It will be a battle all season for the Sharks.
Twitter Quote- Jamie Baker, Sharks Radio Network Color Analyst … “Mission accomplished – Sharks beat the Oilers 3-1, have a 3 game winning streak heading into Chicago (to) play the Cup Champs Sunday #SJSharks” from @SJSharks (re-tweeted).
Next Sharks Game- Sunday (November 19th) the Sharks will visit Chicago and get one of their toughest tests of the season as they take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks. The puck drops at 4pm Pacific Time (6pm in Chicago). The Blackhawks are Jonathan Toews (tayz), Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and more. In other words “The Usual Suspects.” Should be a good one from the Windy City.
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