In the Crease: Sharks' trip through Alberta begins in Edmonton

In the Crease: Sharks' trip through Alberta begins in Edmonton
January 29, 2014, 10:00 am
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The Sharks have won the first two games of the season series against the Oilers, 3-1 on Nov. 15 in Edmonton, and 5-1 on Jan. 2 at home. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Oilers coverage gets underway at 6:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 34-13-6, 74 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Oilers: 17-32-6, 40 points, 7th Pacific Division, 14th Western Conference

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks’ six-game winning streak was snapped on Monday with a 1-0 loss to the Kings at home. San Jose fell to 19-3-3 at SAP Center. Alex Stalock set the franchise record for a shutout streak by a goalie (178:55), but suffered the loss with 21 saves. After the Sharks visit Edmonton and Calgary on the road Wednesday and Thursday, they return home for four games before the Olympic break.

[RELATED: Stalock breaks Sharks franchise shutout mark]

Oilers: Edmonton has won two straight, including 4-2 in Vancouver on Monday behind David Perron’s hat trick. The Oilers, who also beat Nashville on Sunday, 5-1, have won consecutive games for just the fourth time this season, and will be trying to equal their longest winning streak of 2013-14 tonight against the Sharks.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Bracken Kearns. The journeyman forward seems to have found at least a temporary home on the third line, and was one of the Sharks’ more effective players in their 1-0 loss to the Kings. The 32-year-old registered a game-high (and NHL career high) five shots on goal, but is scoreless in his last eight games.

Oilers: Justin Schultz. The 23-year-old leads the Oilers in ice time with 23 minutes and 17 seconds per game, and his 22 points (6g, 16a) is tops among Edmonton defensemen. He had a goal and an assist and was a +3 in the Oilers’ convincing win over the Predators on Sunday.

[RELATED: Kings' Brown: NHL needs more players like Sharks' Hertl]

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.96 (6th)
Goals-against per game: 2.28 (4th)
Power play: 18.6 percent (17th)
Penalty kill: 84.1 percent (7th)

Oilers
Goals per game: 2.58 (18th)
Goals-against per game: 3.42 (30th)
Power play: 17.7 percent (18th)
Penalty kill: 81.2 percent (16th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Matt Nieto – Patrick Marleau – Tommy Wingels
Bracken Kearns – Andrew Desjardins – Tyler Kennedy
Eriah Hayes – John McCarthy – Mike Brown

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

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Oilers
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Nail Yakupov – Sam Gagner – David Perron
Matt Hendricks – Boyd Gordon – Ryan Jones
Luke Gadzic – Ryan Smyth – Jesse Joensuu

Nick Schultz – Justin Schultz
Anton Belov – Corey Potter
Jeff Petry – Martin Marincin

Ben Scrivens (confirmed starter)
Ilya Bryzgalov

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), Raffi Torres (right knee surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery), and Logan Couture (right hand) are out.

Oilers: Philip Larsen (illness), Ales Hemsky (foot) and Andrew Ference (head) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks have won the first two games of the season series, 3-1 on Nov. 15 in Edmonton, and 5-1 on Jan. 2 at home. Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock each have a win, and Joe Thornton has four assists over the two games to lead all scorers.

San Jose returns to Rexall Place on March 25, and hosts the Oilers on April 1.

The Sharks are 43-26-12-7 al-time against the Oilers, including 16-2-3 in the last 21 games.

Quoteable

“The issue that I’m sure a lot of teams will have is, let’s make sure we don’t go on the [Olympic] break early. Let’s make sure that we get to the finish line and stockpile as many points as possible.” – Todd McLellan

Burning question

How many of their six games before the Olympic break (Edmonton, Calgary, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and Columbus) will the Sharks win?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.