SAN JOSE – Even after the Sharks were shut out in back-to-back games of their first round series with the Oilers, Brent Burns spoke about how enjoyable it is to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs even after some rough results.
“That’s the fun part, is earning it and going through that,” Burns said on Monday.
Game 4 was presumably a whole lot more fun for Burns and his brethren.
The Sharks smoked the Oilers, 7-0 on Tuesday at SAP Center, outplaying Edmonton from the opening faceoff to the final horn in tying the series at two games apiece.
It took just 15 seconds for the Sharks to break their 120-minute scoring drought, and the rout was on from there. Not surprisingly, it was captain Joe Pavelski who set the early tone, redirecting a Justin Braun shot past Cam Talbot.
That permitted the Sharks to play with the lead for the first time all series. In their Game 1 win they had to erase a 2-0 lead before Melker Karlsson’s overtime marker, and they hadn’t found the net since.
"It was critical,” Pete DeBoer said of scoring first. “That's an important piece, getting that momentum. We weren't able to do it last game. To get it early tonight and get that feeling was critical."
Pavelski said: “It allowed us to really stay with our game. … It was good to see the guys get that lead and not really sit back. We wanted more.”
They got more, alright. Pavelski added another, while Logan Couture scored twice and Patrick Marleau, Marcus Sorensen and David Schlemko also found the net in the Sharks’ most convincing playoff win in franchise history. Previously, the Sharks had never won a playoff game by more than five goals.
The power play, which prior to Game 4 had been about as potent as a North Korean missile test, also came alive. Four of San Jose’s seven goals happened with a man advantage, including the most important score of the night.
Just after Zack Kassian stepped out of the box early in the second period, turning a five-on-three into a five-on-four, Marleau whipped in a pass from Burns past Talbot’s far side at 2:02 of the middle frame.
Had the Oilers killed it off, they could have seized the momentum. Instead, Sharks continued to dictate.
San Jose’s power play was just 1-for-14 in the series through the first three games, after finishing 25th in the league in the regular season.
“We’ve been saying we have confidence in it,” Joe Thornton said. “It’s just a matter of time before we strike. Just keep to our fundamentals and we’d be fine, and you saw that tonight.”
DeBoer said: “They've tried to play physical and they've taken some liberties, and we haven't made them pay a price for that until tonight. I don't think it's a secret that as our key guys are getting healthier and feeling better we're starting to look better in that area."
Couture, who has shown nerves of steel in coming back from a severe mouth injury but hadn’t done much through the first three games, played his best game so far. Despite getting whacked by a high stick and requiring a between-periods visit to the dentist to get his teeth numbed, he was a force.
“I think he’s getting more confident as this series goes on,” Thornton said. “It was nice to see him have a game like he did tonight.”
Couture said: “I felt better tonight. I felt this was my best game of the series.”
His teammates, of course, can say the same as a collective group. But just like a disappointing loss, they’ll have to quickly move on for the all-important Game 5 back at Rogers Place on Thursday.
“It’s nice, but you win 1-0 [or] you win 7-0, it’s just one win,” Couture said. “It was nice to score some goals.”
Pavelski said: “We got a split there, they got one here. We have to go back and get one there.”