Edmonton Oilers: 5
San Jose Sharks:1
Despite the score, the Sharks were the better team. Seriously. They were. However, I’m not a Sharks fan and the first overall pick is safe, so I’ve got to say I really enjoyed this game, and I’m definitely pulling for a Phoenix Coyotes as division champs story, which this helps.
Oilers Three Stars
1. Devan Dubnyk. Asked about getting two wins in two games after his lengthy career-starting losing streak, Dubnyk said “I don’t remember what was so hard about it,” before talking about how hard everyone in front of him worked, going away and then amiably coming back to talk to Gene Principe. He played well again tonight and this is one of those situations where he might make the Oilers goaltending situation a little more complicated before the year ends.
2. Tom Gilbert/Ryan Whitney. This pairing was fantastic tonight, moving the puck sharply, playing solid defensive hockey, and finishing the night plus-3. Tom Gilbert alone had twice as many blocked shots as the entire Sharks team.
3. Fernando Pisani/Shawn Horcoff. It was a good night for the checking line, and both of these players finished with a goal and an assist while keeping their opposition off the score sheet.
The shot clock at even-strength was 24 to 24 in favour of the Sharks, which looks pretty even but doesn’t begin to reflect the Sharks’ territorial dominance. The difference was that virtually every Oilers’ shot not only got through but landed on net – the Oilers had five goals, 19 shots, five missed shots and two blocked shots, meaning that 77.4% of their shots were effective. On the Sharks side, they had one goal, 23 shots, 20 missed shots and 20 blocked shots, so only 37.5% of their shots were effective. It’s a weird split (I can’t recall another like it) and the Sharks numbers are closer to what one would expect from most games, meaning that a) the Oilers made their shots and b) if I were Todd McLellan I’d be spending the entire next practice having guys block shots until they got in the habit of doing it.
It was an unfortunate evening for sketchy looking hits. Rob Blake hammered Ryan Potulny cleanly, but that was just the start. Brad Staubitz butt-ended Potulny in the face (it looked unintentional), and then caught Sam Gagner in the head with his shoulder (again, it looked unintentional). At the end of the game Doug Murray caught Theo Peckham with an awkward hit that sent him tumbling into the boards; Peckham left the game favouring his shoulder.
Three fights in the game; Stortini fought twice, once against Staubitz after a good hit on Dan Boyle (more on that in a second) and then again against Murray a while after Murray’s hit on Peckham. Mike Comrie also squared off against Scott Nichol. None of them were really decisive wins, but I thought the Oiler came out on top all three times.
How did Brad Staubitz escape an instigator penalty when he went after Stortini seconds after the latter hit Dan Boyle? I’m indifferent on the penalty as a rule, but it’s there and the referees should call it, especially when the fight happens right after a clean hit.
Sam Gagner was relegated to the bottom six for the entire night, which I don’t get at all. If Gagner was hurt, he should have been out of the lineup entirely, and if he was healthy he’s arguably the Oilers best player right now (and certainly one of their top three forwards). Sticking him on the bottom half of the forward corps is one more bizarre decision in a season that’s been full of them.