Connor McDavid

Sharks vs. Oilers watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

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USATSI

Sharks vs. Oilers watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

The San Jose Sharks have just two regular season games left to get their game in shape for the playoffs. They’ll play one of those on Thursday as they take on Connor McDavid and the Oilers in Edmonton.

Team Teal is coming off a very disappointing 4-2 loss to the non-playoff bound Vancouver Canucks. San Jose had a 2-1 lead going into the third frame of Tuesday’s contest but let the Canucks stick around, which resulted in three unanswered goals. “We had chances to break it open 3-1 and we didn’t do that,” Joe Pavelski told the media afterward, saying the team was on the “wrong end, again.”

The captain scored a power-play goal in Tuesday’s game, which was his first contest after missing seven due to a lower-body injury. Melker Karlsson, who missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, will pencil back into the lineup on Thursday. Erik Karlsson, who has started practicing with the team again after being sidelined on February 26.

This is the final time the Sharks and Oilers will play each other this season. In 125 total matchups between the franchises, San Jose holds a 61-49-9-6 record against Edmonton.

Sharks projected lines and starters:

Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Joe Pavelski
Evander Kane – Tomas Hertl – Gustav Nyquist
Marcus Sorensen – Joe Thornton – Kevin Labanc
Micheal Haley – Barclay Goodrow – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Tim Heed
Jacob Middleton – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun

Aaron Dell – projected starter
Martin Jones

Oilers projected lines and pairs:

Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Ty Rattie
Tobias Rieder – Colby Cave – Alex Chiasson
Joseph Gambardella – Sam Gagner – Josh Currie

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

Anthony Stolarz – projected starter
Mikko Koskinen

NHL All-Stars wowed by Kendall Coyne Schofield in Skills Competition

NHL All-Stars wowed by Kendall Coyne Schofield in Skills Competition

SAN JOSE -- The NHL All-Star Skills Competition got off to an unparalleled start Friday night, as Kendall Coyne Schofield geared up to compete in the Fastest Skater event.

The U.S. women's national team forward was a surprise addition at SAP Center, becoming the first woman to compete in the All-Star festivities. In making history -- and being the first skater in the whole event, no less -- she also turned the heads of her male competitors.

"She was flying," Atlantic Division captain Auston Matthews told the media after the competition. "Everybody was taking notice (during warmups) because she just looks fast. She did really well."

Pacific Division captain Connor McDavid, who won the event for the third year in a row, was the last skater in the event and admitted he thought Coyne Schofield had him beat from the start.

"When she took off, I was like, wow," McDavid said with a wide-eyed expression. "I thought she might've won the way she was moving."

Despite this being a competitive event, Coyne Schofield expressed afterward how welcome the other skaters made her feel.

"They were so supportive," Coyne Schofield said, adding that she took pictures with McDavid and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane to commemorate the evening. "They kept saying they were a little nervous I'd beat them. I had full confidence in them, so for them to have full confidence in me was pretty cool."

Coyne Schofield attended Friday's skills competition alongside teammate Brianna Decker and Team Canada skaters Renata Fast and Rebecca Johnston, who all participated in different events throughout the evening.

Coyne Schofield said she felt their participation and her invitation to compete showed both men and women can participate in the All-Star events.

"I think today the NHL took that stance," Coyne Schofield said. "They made that statement, and I was fortunate enough to be part of a lot of people pushing for it."

McDavid agreed.

"It's an amazing thing for the game when (fans) can see her participate like that," he said.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-4 blowout win over Oilers

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 7-4 blowout win over Oilers

BOX SCORE

The Sharks entered Saturday’s game in Edmonton with a less-than-admirable record in afternoon starts on the season. They were winless before they squared off with the Oilers.

But San Jose boosted that record by getting a notch in a win column. Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson tallied two goals apiece on the evening, and Erik Karlsson made a triumphant return to the ice in San Jose’s 7-4 victory. 

Here are three takeaways from the Saturday matinee:

Welcome back, EK65

Karlsson wasted no time getting back to work in his return from a two-game suspension. Any concern the defenseman would’ve lost momentum after sitting for two games disappeared almost immediately when he set up Joonas Donskoi’s first-period goal with a seamless cross-ice pass.

Karlsson was a big part of San Jose’s push after that first goal, setting up another goal later in the frame and then scoring one of his own in the second stanza to give the Sharks a nice, cushion-y 4-1 lead. The two-time Norris Trophy winner finished the night with a plus-5 rating and led the team with eight shot attempts.

Heck, how many other players can do that in their first game back from a layoff?

The new lines are gelling

In the Sharks' win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, the trio of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Marcus Sorensen led the charge. On Saturday, the chemistry of Tomas Hertl's new line was on display.

The Czech forward looked confident and comfortable playing center in Saturday’s game with Donskoi and Evander Kane on his wings. It was their line that responded 16 seconds after Edmonton opened up scoring in the first period. The trio was responsible for two goals on the afternoon, and might’ve notched even more had a few shots in the first period not rung off the post.

So there’s that sense of urgency we’ve heard so much about

For a good part of the season, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer has been critical of the team’s sense of urgency when they were leading by one or tied. On Saturday, the Sharks showed that edge – not just in responding to the Oilers’ first goal, but by not sitting back on their heels after gaining momentum late in the first period. 

San Jose kept up a relentless pace through the next two periods, baffling the Oilers and finding ways to get the puck past Edmonton netminder Cam Talbot. The look of disbelief on Connor McDavid’s face when Couture pushed him off the puck and scored his first goal on the day was the priceless epitome. The Sharks' defensive effort helped as well, frustrating the Oilers and handing them their fifth loss in a row.