San Jose Sharks: 5
Edmonton Oilers: 4 (SO)
Against all odds, the Oilers were competitive for the entire evening, but a brutal breakdown in the final minutes of the game cost them two points.
Oilers Three Stars, According To Me
1. Ryan Potulny. Jason Strudwick’s first intermission pick to help carry the offensive load, Potulny did just that with a pair of goals that showcased his offensive ability. The first one was completely self-made, with Potulny creating a turnover at his own blue-line, carrying it down the ice and scoring against Evgeni Nabokov, while the second was the result of a lucky bounce and an instant release. It ought to have been the game-winner.
2. Dustin Penner. A goal and an assist tonight, and had a solid game for the most part. Was the only member of the first line on the ice who arguably was not to blame for the tying goal being given up.
3. Lubomir Visnovsky. Quietly had an incredibly effective game from the back end, distributing the puck well (as usual) and was more solid in the defensive zone too than he has been of late. I don’t think I saw a single instance tonight when he made the wrong play.
Gilbert Brule just missed the cutoff for the three stars because of his involvement with Patrick Marleau’s short-handed game-tying goal. Let’s review the play: Sam Gagner loses the faceoff. Dustin Penner pushes off to the top of the circle to provide an outlet if the Oilers regain possession, which also allows him to cover the high Shark. Meanwhile, Sheldon Souray gets drawn into the corner and Steve Staios abandons the front of the net. Now, with less than two minutes left, Brule ought to be scrambling back to cover the front of the net; he’s the only forward not involved with the play. Instead, he’s hanging out near the blueline hoping for an outlet pass. Patrick Marleau gets all alone in front and ties the game up; instead of putting up two points the Oilers give them away and take one point in the shootout. It was a brutal sequence of events by all parties, but Brule in particular needed to have a little more awareness of the game situation there. Otherwise he had a very good game.
Souray and Staios were brutal all night, and were on for all four Sharks goals and none of the Oilers’ goals.
Speaking of brutal, Shawn Horcoff’s line was arguably the worst one on the ice tonight. Horcoff and O’Sullivan were bad, but I was particularly annoyed with Jean-Francois Jacques. There’s a difference between playing physical and playing stupid, and he crossed over that line tonight. Aside from his pucks skills (which were, at best, middling this evening) he single-handedly negated a power play in the first period with a late hit on Ryan Clowe, and then he gave the Sharks the man advantage on their third goal by running Joe Thornton into the turnbuckle. Hits are good, but those hits were stupid, and went a long ways towards helping the team lose tonight.
Jeff Deslauriers had a couple of good saves early, but looked lost on a couple of goals (Patrick Marleau’s second in particular caught him moving the wrong direction). I hope Quinn uses Dubnyk tonight.
Could someone tell me why Sam Gagner and Dustin Penner keep getting tapped for shootout work? They’re a combined 0-for-7 on the year and Penner in particular hasn’t looked good doing it. As for Gagner, he’s been at best average since some early-career success.
While I’m being fairly critical here (this was a very nice opportunity that the Oilers’ choked on) the team did play a good game – in particular the top line and the Potulny line – and looked competitive in a game they had no business being in. It could have been much worse.