San Jose Sharks: 4
Edmonton Oilers: 2
This one had trainwreck written all over it, and the Sharks didn’t disappoint, outclassing the Oilers early and jumping to a quick lead. They sat back in the third and the Oilers kept the score respectable, but these teams could have been in different leagues.
 

First Period

 
Thomas Greiss getting the start for San Jose, which isn’t surprising given the disparity in talent between these two teams. In net for Edmonton will be Devan Dubnyk, who looked fairly good against Pittsburgh. I should also note that Gene Principe is in stellar form in the early going, on a roll with coffee analogies. I kid you not – on some nights he’s absolutely the best part of Oilers broadcasts.
Brutal lineup tonight – Stone, Pisnai and Brule are all out, and Shawn Horcoff’s still iffy, meaning the Oilers have 11 forwards (including Strudwick). Ryan Potulny is centering Penner and Nilsson, while Horcoff is between Moreau and O’Sullivan. Jacques joins Cogliano and Gagner on the third line.
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Tom Gilbert jumped in on the play to help out down low with Cogliano and Jacques, but rather than cut back and cover the point, Zack Stortini came piling in behind him. The result wasa three=on=one the other way, but it’s disappointing to see a relatively experienced guy like Stortini make such a simple mistake. When the defenceman jumps in, the high winger needs to cover and Stortini didn’t.
Patrick Marleau scores the first goal on a cross-crease pass that deflected in off Dubnyk’s stick (although Heatley seems to be getting the credit); there’s no way to look at this one as anything other than a bad play by Dubnyk.
Dustin Penner is getting double-shifted as the fourth line centre between Stortini and Strudwick. That has to be the first time in the post-MacTavish era that he’s been on the fourth line.
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The Sportsnet feed is pretty sketchy today; nine minutes in and it has cut out five times.
This game has the potential to get really ugly. The Oilers have been dominated, and aside from some smart plays by Gagner haven’t even looked dangerous offensively. The sharks seem to be winning every shift.
Positive news – I was trying to think of forwards the Oilers could recall and it seems Marc Pouliot is having a very good conditioning stint in Springfield; he has three points and a plus-1 rating in two games. He’d be a top-nine forward if he was on the team today.
I’m not sure what’s wrong with this Sportsnet feed; maybe it’s only on Centre Ice, but it’s cut out twice more since I mentioned it four minutes ago.
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The presence of Penner on the fourth line gives the Oilers one matchup battle they have a chance at winning; they just had a lovely shift against the Sharks dregs.
Denis Grebeshkov ties the game at one off some hard work and a sick pass from Sam Gagner. Gagner’s been easily the best Oiler on the ice so far in the game, and gets rewarded for his labours. Andrew Cogliano also helped out with the spade work behind the net, and collects an assist for his work.
Patrick O’Sullivan’s reputation for soft play seems entirely ludicrous, at least based on the last half-dozen games. He’s been throwing his body around and absolutely destroyed a Sharks defenceman off the faceoff.
First penalty – an accidental high stick – goes to Dustin Penner, who got caught out with Stortini and Strudwick against the Joe Thornton line. Matchups like that are what kill me about Quinn’s rolling the lines style. Setoguchi scores on a strong shot on the ensuing power play.
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2-1 to end the first; the Gagner line has been the only real bright spot for the Oilers so far.
 

Second Period

 
I’m on a bit of a time crunch today (skating with my wife, playing hockey tonight) so I’m skipping my usual intermission segments.
Setoguchi scores to make it 3-1 just over 20 seconds in; Dubnyk made one good save but the Horcoff line was embarrassed by the Sharks’ second unit and the puck was going to go in eventually. It’s all Sharks after the goal too; the Penner line’s out but they’re getting buried.
Comical segment as Stortini makes a three foot pass directly into the skates of Jason Strudwick. Strudwick, not blessed with incredible puck reception to begin with, flubs it, and the two spend 15 seconds trying to find the puck as the Sharks converge. Stortini’s had an ugly game.
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The shots are now 21-8, which reflects the score almost perfectly.
The Gagner line now matched up against Thornton, and Gagner calmly moves the puck out to Cogliano who dumps it into the offensive zone. Gagner’s worlds better now than he was as a rookie (including during the hot ‘Kid Line’ stretch) but for whatever reason it sometimes seems like he’s underappreciated by Oilers’ fans. He’s going to be a real difference maker in a few years.
Gagner sprung J-F Jacques for a beautiful chance all alone, but Thomas Greiss came way out net and knocked the puck away from him.
The Sharks are winning the faceoff battle 19-8 so far. That seems like something that could have been addressed over the off-season.
A great shift for the fourth line, as Zack Stortini ragged on the puck whenever he got it, but the really dangerous player (again) was Gagner, who set up the play and gritted it out down low.
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Odd play. Patrick O’Sullivan went to pass the puck to Moreau as the Horcoff line broke out of their own zone, but Moreau wanted to change so he turned to the bench. Unfortunately, as a result the puck went the distance and the tired line had to come back out in their own end.
Dubnyk with a very nice save on Heatley from in close; the puck goes to the other end and Benn Ferriero chips it over the glass to give the Oilers a power play.
Sheldon Souray pinches in deep against the Thornton line, but the puck goes the other way. Thornton’s line goes 3-on-2 the other way, and Jacques gets badly outplayed as a defenceman, allowing Thornton to sneak in behind him and tip a goal in to give the Sharks a 4-1 lead.
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Every so often, Ladislav Smid shows some offence; he made a beautiful play where he skated the puck out of danger in the offensive zone and got a nice shot away on net. It had looked like the Sharks would get an odd man rush the other way but Smid’s quick thinking turned it into an Oilers’ opportunity.
Steve Staios made a lovely play one-on-one with Patrick Marleau to thwart a scoring chance. The referees probably could have called him for tripping (he got the stick out and it didn’t contact the puck) but it was close enough that he got away with it.
 

Third Period

 
Sheldon Souray manhandles Pavelski in front of the San Jose net and gives the Sharks an early man advantage.
The Oilers did a nice job killing the penalty; Dubnyk in particular was sharp. O’Sullivan with another fairly big hit towards the end of the penalty.
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The Oilers fourth line is now caught out against Thornton and Marleau, and once again they’re road kill. I generally like Quinn as a coach but this sort of thing drives me nuts.
Great shift for the Horcoff line; Patrick O’Sullivan had a great chance off an Ethan Moreau shot.
Puck comes free to Gagner sitting all by himself below the hash marks and Greiss had to make a tremendous save to stop him.
The Sharks are sitting back here in the third and it’s allowed the Oilers to even things up a bit; the Horcoff line is having another great shift that resulted in a few chances (notably a Tom Gilbert shot from the high slot). Shots are now 30-24, a total that flatters the Oilers immensely.
Sam Gagner takes a hooking penalty in the offensive zone to (presumably) kill the momentum the Oilers had.
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The Sharks power play looked incredibly lethal early, but surrendered two chances – the first to Cogliano, and the second to O’sullivan on a two-on-one with Horcoff; O’Sullivan scores the Oilers’ first short-handed goal of the season to make it 4-2 San Jose. I know bashing O’Sullivan is a popular pastime right now, but he’s been very good the last little while.
Some numbers to back that up: O’Sullivan now has four goals and 10 points in his last 10 games.
Some great work by Shawn Horcoff in the corner is undone as Lubomir Visnovsky abandons his spot on the point; instead it turns into a 2-on-1 for San Jose and Devan Dubnyk makes a great save.
Denis Grebeshkov is now partnered with Visnovsky and has looked good. I may have spoken to soon; the Sharks outman Visnovsky and Grebeshkov and generate a very, very dangerous chance against the Oilers. Dubnyk somehow managed to keep the puck out.
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With less than a minute to go the Oilers finally clear the zone, and Devan Dubnyk heads to the bench. Patrick O’Sullivan manages a nice shot from in close before the puck goes the other way. Lubomir Visnovsky manages to stop an empty net goal against, blocking a shot by Jed Ortmeyer.
 

Oilers Three Stars

 
1. Sam Gagner. Gagner was the one Oiler who was good on almost every shift and consistently generated offensive chances for the Oilers. In a game where the Sharks dominated territorially, Gagner was the sole Oiler to finish in the black by Corsi, and managed an assist on Grebeshkov’s goal.
2. Patrick O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan had a solid game and scored the Oilers first short-handed goal; he also threw his body around and landed some surprisingly effective hits. Very nice game for O’Sullivan.
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3. Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk was struggling to make the big save early but that changed as the game wore on, and he made a number of highlight reel stops to keep the Oilers in close.
No dive for five star tonight; nobody was bad enough to really warrant one (Jacques, Stortini, Horcoff and Nilsson all struggled but none of them were especially bad) as this was a team effort. The final score and the shot clock flatter the Oilers.