NHL Gameday: Sharks look to break out of scoring slump in Game 4


NHL Gameday: Sharks look to break out of scoring slump in Game 4

Programming note – Sharks-Oilers coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on NBC Sports California


The Oilers lead the best-of-seven series, two games to one.

Game 1: Sharks 3, Oilers 2 (OT)
Game 2: Oilers 2, Sharks 0
Game 3: Oilers 1, Sharks 0
Game 4: Tuesday, April 18, Oilers @ Sharks (7 p.m.)
Game 5: Thursday, April 20, Sharks @ Oilers (7:30 p.m.)
*Game 6: Saturday, April 22, Oilers @ Sharks (TBD)
*Game 7: Monday, April 24, Sharks @ Oilers (TBD)

* - if necessary


***The Sharks enter Game 4 having not scored in the last 120 minutes since Melker Karlsson’s overtime goal in Game 1. Cam Talbot is the first Oilers goalie to record back-to-back shutouts since Curtis Joseph in the 1998 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

After getting 44 shots in Game 1, the Sharks have just a combined 39 shots in games two and three. San Jose has yet to play with a lead.

***The Oilers have won five of the last six games with the Sharks, including the final three of the regular season. Dating back to March 14, Edmonton has won 14 of its last 17 overall.

***The Sharks have lost their last three home playoff games, dating back to last season. They had won eight of 10 at SAP Center before dropping games four and six of the Stanley Cup Final to the Penguins.


Sharks: Joe Thornton. The future Hall of Fame center returned to the lineup for Game 3, notching a pair of shots in 16:27 of ice time. He wasn’t on the ice at the end of the game, though, as the Sharks were searching for the equalizing goal, suggesting he’s not playing at 100 percent. Thornton also couldn’t help the scuffling power play, which is now 1-for-14 in the series, despite returning to his place on the top unit.

Oilers: Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers moved Draisaitl off of the Connor McDavid line in the second period, and his new line with Zack Kassian generated the only goal of the game. Edmonton’s second-leading scorer in the regular season, the 21-year-old Cologne, Germany native is still looking for his first point in the series. 


Melker Karlsson – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi – Tomas Hertl – Jannik Hansen
Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Timo Meier

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Anton Slepyshev
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Drake Caggiula – Leon Draisaitl – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – Mark Letestu – David Desharnais

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning

Cam Talbot (starter)
Laurent Brossoit


Sharks: None.

Oilers: Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL) is out.


The Sharks are 3-10 all-time when trailing a series two-games-to-one. They are 6-9 all-time when a series is tied at two games apiece, and 0-6 all-time when trailing three-games-to-one.

The Sharks have an all-time Game 4 record of 17-18, including 9-10 at home.


“We want to create some offensive chances. I don't think we're getting enough, and when we do get the chances we're not hitting the net or putting it in the net. That first period of last night's game it would have been nice to get a couple because we certainly had some chances to do it and either missed the net or didn't put it in." – Logan Couture

Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights


Couture scores in OT, helps Sharks make up ground on Golden Knights


SAN JOSE -- Logan Couture scored 39 seconds into overtime to send the San Jose Sharks to their season-high sixth straight victory, 2-1 over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

Brent Burns also scored and Martin Jones made 24 saves to help the Sharks move within seven points of first-place Vegas with eight games remaining in the regular season. San Jose also opened a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with a game in hand as the Sharks close in on home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Tomas Tatar scored the lone goal for the Golden Knights, who were kept in the game by a sterling performance by goalie Malcolm Subban. He stopped 42 shots but it wasn't enough for Vegas to come up with the win.

After Jones made a big save early in the overtime, the Sharks came up with the puck in transition and Couture beat Subban with a backhand for his 31st goal of the season.

The Golden Knights struck first on a pretty passing play early in the first period that ended when Jonathan Marchessault found Tatar cutting through the slot ahead of Justin Braun. Tatar skated past Jones and backhanded the puck into the open net.

Vegas has been dominant when getting off to a lead, posting an NHL-best 31-5-1 record when scoring first heading into this game. But the Sharks dominated the second period, outshooting the Golden Knights 18-4 and getting the equalizer on a blast by Burns from the point after another strong shift by San Jose's fourth line.

But Vegas managed to keep it tied despite the lopsided shot totals, killing off a four-minute penalty to Colin Miller and another late power play that started late in the second.

That penalty carried over until the third period and the Sharks got 25 seconds of a two-man advantage after Brayden McNabb was called for throwing his stick but still couldn't get anything past Subban.

The Golden Knights squandered a power-play chance later in the period when Colin Miller was called for cross checking with the man advantage. That nearly led to a power-play goal for San Jose but Subban appeared to get a piece of a shot from in close to Joe Pavelski to keep the game tied at 1.

NOTES: Vegas G Marc-Andre Fleury didn't make the trip to San Jose with an undisclosed injury but is expected to join the team for Saturday's game in Colorado. ... Burns became the 15th player to play 500 career games with the Sharks.

Golden Knights: Visit Colorado on Saturday.

Sharks: Host Calgary on Saturday.


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.