In the Crease: Sharks look to turn things around against Oilers

In the Crease: Sharks look to turn things around against Oilers
April 1, 2014, 9:45 am

The Sharks scored five goals against the Oilers in a 5-2 win on March 25. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Oilers coverage gets underway with Sharks Pregame Live at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California Plus (Channel locations)

Where they stand
Sharks: 47-20-9, 103 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference
Oilers: 26-40-9, 61 points, 7th Pacific Division, 14th Western Conference

Playoff watch

The Sharks trail Anaheim by three points in the Pacific Division. The Ducks have one game in hand and the tiebreaker of more regulation/overtime wins (47-37). Anaheim erased a 4-0 deficit to beat Winnipeg on Monday in overtime, 5-4.

If the playoffs started today, the Sharks would host the Los Angeles Kings.

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks lost their second straight game in regulation on Saturday, 3-2 in Colorado. Joe Pavelski (power play) and Dan Boyle scored, while Alex Stalock allowed three goals on 22 shots. The Sharks, 1-2-2 in their last five games, poured 49 shots on Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov in the loss, and had another 25 blocked.

Oilers: The Oilers have lost four of their last five in regulation, with the lone win coming on March 28 in overtime against Anaheim. Most recently, the Rangers spanked them at home, 5-0 on Sunday. Edmonton has been outscored 24-8 in its last five games, including a 5-2 loss to the Sharks at Rexall Place one week ago.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Logan Couture. The Sharks’ center has missed his team’s last two games against Edmonton, a team that he has thrived against in his career. Couture has 10 goals in 14 career games against the Oilers, and has 10 points in his last 11 games overall (3g, 7a) despite getting taken off of the first power play unit.

Oilers: Jordan Eberle. One of the few Oilers doing anything at all of late is Eberle, who had six points in his previous four games before the Rangers shut out Edmonton. The winger is second on the team in scoring with 56 points (24g, 32a) and has 12 points in 14 career games against the Sharks.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.92 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.33 (4th)
Power play: 17.4 percent (19th)
Penalty kill: 84.3 percent (7th)

Oilers
Goals per game: 2.41 (25th)
Goals-against per game: 3.28 (30th)
Power play: 16.2 percent (23rd)
Penalty kill: 82.0 percent (15th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Marty Havlat – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Tyler Kennedy – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun

Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Alex Stalock

Oilers
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Anton Lander – Sam Gagner – David Perron
Ryan Smyth – Boyd Gordon – Tyler Pitlick
Matt Hendricks - Will Acton - Philip Larsen

Oscar Klefbom – Justin Schultz
Martin Marincin – Jeff Petry
Mark Fraser – Anton Belov

Ben Scrivens (confirmed starter)
Viktor Fasth

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), Raffi Torres (soreness/right knee surgery) and Adam Burish (left hand) are out. Scott Hannan (personal) is questionable.

Oilers: Richard Bachman (strained groin), Jesee Joensuu (high ankle sprain), Ryan Jones (left knee), Luke Gadzic (shoulder surgery), Nail Yakupov (ankle) and Andrew Ference (chest) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks are 3-1-0 in four games with Edmonton this season, including a 5-1 win at SAP Center on Jan. 2.

Joe Pavelski leads the Sharks with five goals and seven points against Edmonton, while Taylor Hall has five points (2g, 3a) against the Sharks.

All-time, the Sharks are 43-37-7 with 12 ties against Edmonton, including a 16-3-3 mark in the last 22 games.

Quoteable

“I think a big part of it is just having fun. It’s fun to go out there and play hard and make plays and do all that. When you work and you get rewarded, it’s even more fun. I’m really just trying to focus on playing each game. I haven’t talked about it a whole lot just because – it’s not that I want to jinx it – but I want to just make sure my focus is on playing like that every night.” – James Sheppard

Burning question

Who should be the odd man out on defense when all seven are healthy? Leave your answer in the comments section below.