NHL Gameday: Sharks, Oilers fighting for home ice in first round

NHL Gameday: Sharks, Oilers fighting for home ice in first round

Programming note – Sharks-Oilers coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on NBC Sports California


Sharks: 45-28-7, 97 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Oilers: 44-26-9, 97 points, 2nd Pacific Division


***There’s a chance that a Sharks-Oilers first round matchup could be set in stone tonight. If the Ducks beat Chicago and the Oilers lose in regulation, or Anaheim gets one point while Edmonton gets none, then Sharks-Oilers it is.

The location of Game 1, though, would still be TBD. The Sharks are 25-10-4 at SAP Center, while the Oilers are 24-12-4 at the new Rogers Place.

“You’re still fighting for home ice, which could turn out to be obviously a very big deal,” Jannik Hansen said. “Sometimes it’s not, but more often it’s nice to know in the back of your mind [that if] you win your home games, you’re good.”

The Oilers have won eight straight home games.

[RATTO: McLellan-comes-home one of many fascinating Sharks-Oilers storylines]

“The energy in our building has been immense over the last month in the run to the playoffs,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “But, it doesn’t guarantee you wins and it doesn’t guarantee you losses.”

***Although Joe Thornton (left knee) left open the remote possibility he would play tonight, that won’t be the case. Coach Pete DeBoer said Thornton has not been medically cleared, and when told that Thornton declared he would be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs, DeBoer continued to simply refer to him as “day-to-day.” Logan Couture, who was on the ice for nearly an hour on Thursday, also remains out with his mouth injury.

***Edmonton has won each of the last two games with the Sharks, after San Jose captured the first two. One week ago, Connor McDavid posted a dazzling shorthanded goal and an assist in a 3-2 Oilers win.

“You need to know when he’s on the ice, make sure they’re not getting any freebies, easy goals,” Hansen said. “It felt like in Edmonton we gave them a couple goals that maybe they didn’t deserve. They create a ton, but the goals they got were kind of off our mistakes.”

The Sharks jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks on Tuesday, but were outplayed after that in a 3-1 win. It was their second straight victory over Vancouver after they had lost eight of nine in regulation before that.

“We got some real good performances from some people, and some other people we think can do a little bit more,” DeBoer said. “I think the bottom line is, heading into the playoffs, we need everybody playing at a maximum level. That’s the goal, to get everybody to that level.”


Sharks: Kevin Labanc. The rookie snapped a 28-game goal drought just 12 seconds into Tuesday’s game while playing on a line with Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson. He also saw time on the top power play unit, which is missing two of its regulars. The Sharks will need contributions from their younger players over the next two games if they’re going to secure home ice in the first round, including Labanc.

Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The first overall pick from the 2011 draft scored a pair of goals on Tuesday in Los Angeles, and has seven points in his last six games (3g, 4a). The 23-year-old is second among NHL forwards in ice time per game (20:38), but also has a team-worst minus-12 rating.


Melker Karlsson – Joe Pavelski – Kevin Labanc
Jannik Hansen – Tomas Hertl – Mikkel Boedker
Joonas Donskoi – Patrick Marleau – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Marcus Sorensen

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

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

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

Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot (starter)
Laurent Brossoit


Sharks: Logan Couture (face) and Joe Thornton (left knee) are out.

Oilers: Tyler Pitlick (torn ACL) is out.


“We’ve got to realize that we’re two games away from four games and you’re out. [Our game has] got to be better for these last two.” – Brenden Dillon

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Well, the Sharks certainly made it interesting. Every time the Ducks scored a goal on Friday evening, the Sharks came back and were able to tie things up. They even got the game-tying goal late in the third period that took their contest into overtime – at least, before they lost 4-3.

Perhaps at a different time of year, getting their first point in five games would feel better. Not on this night. 

The focus remains on the work to be done with just seven games left in the regular season. For Team Teal, they need to clean their game up and get back into the win column.

“It’s better than nothing, but overall, we’re just not finding ways to win games now,” Timo Meier told the media in Anaheim regarding the single point. “We’ve got to find a way to win games. It’s an important time of the year. Playoffs are really close.”

San Jose put a better effort on the ice on Friday than they did the previous evening in LA against the Kings, but the opportunistic Ducks were able to bury more of their chances,

"I don’t think we gave them very much," Peter DeBoer said. "Every chance they got, they stuck in the net, though."

DeBoer was more critical of the team a second night in a row, and rightfully so. Despite outshooting the opposition, the Sharks weren’t able to find the back of the net enough times. They allowed two goals while playing on the penalty kill and tallied 14 giveaways. Plus, outside of Meier’s power-play marker, San Jose still went one-for-five on the man advantage. Despite tying the score up three times, the Sharks couldn’t keep the Ducks from responding.

Clearly, all areas of the game need to be tweaked.

“We’ve got to find a way to get an extra save, and on (the other) end we’ve got to find a way to get another goal,” DeBoer said. “We could’ve used a power-play goal tonight -- another one.”

Perhaps the only silver lining, as Meier put it, is that the Sharks are going through this stretch now instead of once they get into the playoffs. San Jose is still trying to get some of its key players healthy and into the lineup so they can make a deep playoff run with the lines and pairs they want. The goal, at least at the moment, is to make sure this five-game skid is a lesson to learn from and not a prelude to the future.

"Get stronger as a team, get tighter as a group, and learn," Meier said. "It’s going to make us stronger going into the playoffs because there are going to be lots of ups and downs coming up. It’s going to make us stronger and we’ve got to react the right way.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks


All the Sharks needed was a win. Just one win on Friday evening against the Ducks. Two points to salvage the road trip, stop the losing streak, and get back to hunting for first place in the division.

Not surprisingly, Team Teal made things interesting with a game that stayed tied up heading down the stretch. Unfortunately for San Jose, the Ducks were the victors in overtime 4-3.

Here are three takeaways from Friday’s game:

How did the power play look?

In a few words: nonexistent until the third. San Jose had three opportunities on the man advantage through the first 40 minutes of play and couldn’t make anything happen. They even gave up a couple breaks the other way that Dell had to stop. Had the power play converted, the Sharks might’ve been up by two or three goals after two period of play.

Timo Meier came up big with the power-play goal in the third period to tie the score up 2-2. While they couldn’t capitalize on the power-play opportunity immediately followed, Meier’s marker will hopefully open up the flood gates for the power play.

Who else stepped up?

Sharks’ bench boss Peter DeBoer didn’t mince words after Thursday’s loss to the Kings, saying that the team needed someone to step up during this stretch with injured superstars and be a hero.

“You’ve got to get a great performance from somebody in a game like this and I don’t think we got that,” DeBoer said on Thursday.

In all honesty, the whole team looked better even with the loss. The fourth line had a couple very memorable shifts, cycling low and establishing pressure. Joe Thornton’s line was clicking, which was clear from Kevin Labanc’s goal.

Gustav Nyquist was a solo standout – despite not finding the back of the net, he played a heck of a game and had some incredible looks. Of course, you can’t talk about this game without talking about Justin Braun scoring the big game-tying goal in the third frame, which was his first marker since December 2.

How did Aaron Dell do?

In all fairness, Dell gave the Sharks a chance to win for the majority of the game. No. 30 has looked good in his last couple of outings – save his relief effort against the Golden Knights earlier in the week when he had little defense to help him out – and he made a couple great saves in Anaheim as well, especially when the Ducks had a couple short-handed breakaways.

Unfortunately for Dell, he gave up the two power-play goals in the third frame. While Braun was the hero and scored the tying goal late in the third to help take the game into overtime, Dell still couldn’t hold down the fort in overtime. It doesn’t matter if he’s the backup or not – at this time of the season, playing too loose late in games isn’t good.