Knoxville’s is your post playoff party destination
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 13, 2017
The Oilers started off the first frame strong. The Sharks surged early in the first playoff game at Rogers Place, with a strong start for the first five minutes, until the Oilers third line hit the ice.
The three players helped generate shots on net, and a big hit by Kassian on a Shark defender got the fans of Rogers Place cheering.
A minute later, Oscar Klefbom scored the first goal of the game, and the first Edmonton Oilers Playoff goal in 11 years. Walking in from the point, Klefbom took a shot from the left side faceoff dot. The wrist shot deflected off David Schlemko and past Martin Jones.
The following shift saw the Oilers first line come out and continue the pressure.
By the 10 minute mark, it was clear that the Oilers were here to play. Every one was in on the hit parade, with even Jordan Eberle not shying from throwing his weight around.
The Oilers were faced with the task of killing off a few penalties. Eberle tripped up David Schelmko, and two minutes after killing that call, Kassian got a little flagrant with his stick. He caught Joe Pavelski in the face and he had to sit for two minutes.
After some more back and forth play, the Oilers got their own power-play opportunity. The league’s fifth-ranked regular season power-play continued to click, as Milan Lucic scored a mere 38 seconds into the opportunity.
Not only was Klefbom’s goal scored on a shot to the five-hole, but so was Lucic’s.
The last 10 minutes was largely controlled by the Oilers showing their ability to play as a playoff team.
The Sharks started the second frame on the power-play, and with 15 seconds left in the first, Drake Caggiula got his stick in the hands of Patrick Marleau.
1:43 into the frame, the Sharks capitalized on their power-play opportunity as Joel Ward was able to slide a puck between the legs of Cam Talbot.
My family came up and started talking again and the Sharks scored. I'm so – SO – sorry
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) April 13, 2017
Thanks, Matt’s family.
Minutes later, Talbot outwaited Brent Burns and made a huge save many feet out of his crease.
Their early goal clearly gave them life and despite a power-play chance for the Oilers, that momentum continued. Twelve minutes in, the Oilers were faced with another penalty to kill as Eric Gryba got called for hitting Logan Couture.
Look, I get it. Couture is coming off a major face injury, but I think the call was quite suspect. Even former NHL official Kerry Fraser thought so.
Oilers fans clearly agreed as the classic “Ref You Suck” chant rained down from the fans.
Overall, the second period largely saw the San Jose Sharks dominate play. While the Oilers didn’t look overpowered, it’s clear that the Sharks found some life after they had a lackluster first period.
Despite the early goal to start the frame, the Sharks were unable to beat Talbot.
Terry Jones summed it up pretty well:
Worst period of Oilers playoff hockey in a decade. Still lead 2-1.
— Terry Jones (@sunterryjones) April 13, 2017
Well said Terry, well said.
Like they did in the second frame, the Oilers started off the third having to kill a penalty. However, this time the Oilers were able to kill it off.
Immediately after the young man jumped out of the penalty box, he had a breakaway opportunity. But as he went to fire a shot on net, his stick exploded in his hands.
For the first time in the game, things got a little rough when Iiro Pakarinen and Sean Tierney had an exchange in front of the benches. Players from both teams got into it, but there wasn’t much of anything to come of it.
Shortly after, Patrick Maroon and Marc-Edouard Vlasic both got into it and both had to sit for two minutes.
On the four-on-four, Paul Martin scored on a rebound that popped right out to him.
The ensuring minutes saw the Oilers struggle to maintain position. Costly turnovers had the momentum flowing in favour of the Sharks, but as he has all year, Cam Talbot stood strong in his net.
Tonight, the story of the game was clearly subpar. San Jose caught many breaks from officials all night long, but opted to call very questionable calls against the Oilers.
That rang true once again when Lucic got called for a slash on Timo Meier. The young Meir had been a pest for most of the night and found himself around the puck all night.
Meier came in and laid a hit on Lucic and the big man retaliated with a slash. Meier dropped to the ice like he just got shot with a 12-gauge shotgun and Lucic pleaded his case to the referees while heading to the box.
Minutes later, another good example of poor reffing came into play when Connor McDavid had a breakaway. His stick got lifted, hooked and held in the air. No call.
The Oilers fought through adversity, something they have faced all season, and brought the game to overtime.
Less than four minutes into the extra frame, the San Jose Sharks took away the Oilers home ice-advantage, when Melker Karlsson walked in and was able to beat Cam Talbot with a shot.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Oilers started the game strong but the second and third frames were largely in control of the Sharks.
The Oilers have until Friday to reset for game two of the series. Fear not, Oilers fans. This is only game one of a seven-game series in what has been a long decade without playoff hockey.
Despite the outcome, the game was well worth the wait. The atmosphere in Rogers Place was electric, with the fans keeping the Oilers lifted throughout the night. As it was a decade a go, the Oilers home arena was clearly not an easy one to play in.
Friday, the Oilers need not take the Sharks lightly at times. Sloppy turnovers, a weak transition game and ugly zone entries and exits need to be eliminated.
The Sharks look like a team that was in the Stanley Cup Finals last year and the Oilers are clearly in tough, as we all expected.