SAN JOSE – In what could be a fierce rivalry for the next several years to come, Kevin Labanc scored two goals in a 3-2 Sharks overtime win over Edmonton on Friday at SAP Center.
On the winning goal, Labanc got free in the circle, received a pass from Logan Couture, cut to the net and feathered a shot high over Cam Talbot’s nearside shoulder at 3:22 of extra time.
The Sharks won for the sixth time in their last seven games, and are in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division (21-12-1, 43 points). Edmonton is in second (18-12-6, 42 points).
Joe Pavelski’s power play goal was the only score through two periods. On a Sharks power play that carried over from late in the first, Pavelski rocketed a one-timer from the circle past Cam Talbot for his 12th of the season just half-a-minute into the middle frame.
The Sharks controlled play for much of the second, not allowing Edmonton a shot on goal for more than nine minutes during one stretch. They couldn’t increase the lead, though, despite a four-minute power play after Zack Kassian’s antics at 12:22, when he was issued roughing and cross-checking minors drawn by Brenden Dillon.
That allowed the Oilers to tie it in the third period, courtesy of the league’s leading scorer. Connor McDavid bopped around Joonas Donskoi in the neutral zone, brought the puck over the line, and directed a shot that deflected off of both Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun before slipping in at 6:17.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead at 8:21, when Labanc finished off a two-on-one with Couture after Pavelski sprung them with a nifty play in the neutral zone.
Edmonton replied again, though. McDavid slipped a pass over to Patrick Maroon, who buzzed in a wrist shot past Martin Jones’ far side after the Sharks goalie overcommitted moving from his right to his left.
There was some feistiness to the game, as perhaps each team was looking to set the tone against a division rival in the first meeting of the season. Dillon and Matt Hendricks engaged in a spirited bout in the first period, and later it was Micheal Haley going to Kassian, who lost control of his emotions on a few different occasions, including when he put the Sharks on that lengthy power play.
San Jose visits gleaming new Rogers Arena for the first time on Jan. 10 in the next match between the clubs.
The Sharks are 12-2-2 against the Oilers in the last 16 meetings in San Jose.
The Sharks were a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, and are now 12-for-12 over their last four games. They killed off a Justin Braun tripping minor at 13:28 of the third period to keep it a 2-2 score, as well as a Timo Meier delay of game minor with 3:40 left in the third.
Melker Karlsson nearly scored a shorthanded goal in the first period, but Talbot stretched out to rob him with 12:22 to go.
San Jose went 1-for-4 on the power play.
Talbot and Jones entered the game as the league leaders in ice time, respectively, so it was no surprise they were in net in the battle for first place.
Talbot stopped 28 shots, while Jones made 16 saves on 18 shots.
Tommy Wingels was the latest forward to come out of the lineup as a healthy scratch, making way for Joel Ward’s return. David Schlemko was also scratched for the second straight game.
Brent Burns recorded his 300th career assist on Pavelski’s goal, while Joe Thornton got his 700th assist with the Sharks on the same play.
The Sharks will resume their schedule on Tuesday, Dec. 27 in Anaheim on a quick one-game trip, and return home to host the Flyers next Friday, Dec. 30.