Instant Replay: Sharks rally, stun Oilers in OT in Game 1

Instant Replay: Sharks rally, stun Oilers in OT in Game 1


EDMONTON – Melker Karlsson scored in overtime to give the Sharks a 3-2 win over the Oilers at Rogers Place in their playoff opener on Wednesday night.

Joel Ward and Paul Martin also scored for San Jose, which took the first game of its first round series with the Oilers.

Karlsson was set up on a rush by Joe Pavelski, and beat Cam Talbot with a wrist shot to the far side at 3:22.

For the first 20 minutes, the Sharks were outplayed and outmuscled by the Oilers in what was Edmonton’s first postseason game in more than a decade.

Oscar Klefbom opened the scoring. His shot from a wide angle got a piece of David Schlemko before slipping through Martin Jones at 6:44.

The Sharks nearly tied it on the power play three minutes later when Logan Couture had all kinds of time to line up a wrist shot, but he rang it off of the near post.

The Oilers increased the lead to 2-0 at 17:07 on a power play of their own, as Milan Lucic found the rebound of a Mark Letestu shot.

Edmonton came out hitting, too, as Patrick Maroon drilled Karlsson in front of the San Jose bench in the first minute, and Iiro Pakarinen hammered Schlemko shortly after that.

But just when they looked like they might get pushed out of the game, the Sharks responded in the second. In power play time that carried over to start the middle frame, Joonas Donskoi pushed the puck through the crease to Ward, who whacked it through at 1:43 before Talbot could get over.

San Jose continued to control the play, as Edmonton went more than 12 minutes without a shot. Jones secured the far post with 7:40 to go on a partial breakaway by Connor McDavid, keeping it a one-goal deficit for San Jose.

It took until the third for the Sharks to tie it up, though. Tomas Hertl made a power move to the net during a four-on-four situation, and Martin charged in to clean up the loose puck at 5:22 to knot the score at 2-2.

The Sharks outshot the Oilers 26-7 in the second and third periods combined.

The Sharks improved to 18-15 all-time in Game 1 of a playoff series. They are 11-6 in franchise history when capturing the first game.

The Sharks and Oilers are meeting in the playoff for the first time since 2006, the last year Edmonton was in the postseason. The Oilers won that second round series, four-games-to-two.

Couture was playing after he missed the final seven games of the regular season with a mouth injury, and took a high hit from Eric Gryba at 12:32 of the second period. Gryba was issued an elbowing minor.

Joe Thornton (left knee) did not play.

The Oilers were hosting Game 1 of a playoff series for the first time since the 1991 Campbell Conference Final against the Minnesota North Stars.

The Sharks’ roster entered Game 1 with a combined 1,169 games of playoff experience, compared to just 342 for Edmonton.

The Sharks are 22-21 in playoff overtimes.

Special teams:
Each team struck for a power play goal, as the Sharks were 1-for-6 and Oilers 1-for-3.

San Jose recorded 12 shots on goal on the power play and hit a pair of posts, while the Oilers had three shots.

In goal:
Jones improved to 15-10 all-time in the playoffs with 17 saves.

Starting his first career playoff game, Talbot allowed three goals on 44 shots. The Oilers’ number one had played in two previous playoff games in his career, both in relief of Henrik Lundqvist.

Chris Tierney left the game with less than five minutes to go in the second period after blocking a Darnell Nurse shot with his left foot, but returned to start the third.

Along with Thornton, the Sharks scratched Micheal Haley, Kevin Labanc and Dylan DeMelo.

Edmonton’s Matt Hendricks, Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira and Matt Benning sat out.

Up next:
The series remains in Edmonton for Game 2 on Friday. The Sharks host games three and four on Sunday, April 16 and Tuesday, April 18.

How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific


How the Sharks can catch the Golden Knights and win the Pacific

About a month ago, the Sharks appeared locked into the Pacific Division's second, third, fourth, or fifth spot. At the end of trade deadline day, they were 12 points back of the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights, and only two points up on the fifth place Calgary Flames.

24 days later, thanks to an 8-2-0 record over the last 10 games (second-best in the NHL), San Jose's still in second place. Now though, those margins are eight points and 11 points, respectively. 

The latter's pretty much locked the Sharks into a playoff spot, while the former's created a path for a late run at the Pacific Division crown. Beginning Thursday night, they will play the Golden Knights twice over both team's final nine games. 

What does the path look like to the Sharks' first division title since 2011? To start, they'll have to beat the Golden Knights twice in regulation to even have a shot. 

That is the foundation of any run at the Pacific's top spot. If the Sharks win both remaining games in regulation, they'll trail the Golden Knights by four points, leaving aside results against other teams for now.

They have to win in regulation, however. A win in overtime or the shootout on Thursday would only cut the gap to seven, and a subsequent win in regulation would leave it at five. Two losses, in any situation, would create a gap of 10-12 points, which would be nearly impossible to overcome this late in the season. 

One point doesn't seem like a lot, but this late in the season, it makes a world of difference. A five-point gap means they'll need to earn six more than the Golden Knights in those other seven games, while a four-point gap means they'll need to earn five in order to pass them. 

The simplest way to five extra points, is for the Sharks to have a record that's two wins and an overtime loss better (2-0-1) than the Golden Knights in the seven games where they don't play each other. That's impossible if Vegas earns at least 10 points in those seven games, so a 5-2-0 or 4-1-2 record would ensure a division banner raising in Sin City.

Taken all together, then, the Golden Knights' 'magic number' is 10 points. Even if the Sharks win on Thursday, their path to a Pacific title remains difficult, if not improbable. 

If a season with an expansion team leading their division has taught us anything, though -- it's that improbable is not impossible.  

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it.