SAN JOSE – Every facet of their game was on point for the Sharks the last time they were at SAP Center. They’ll likely need at least a similar type of effort as that 7-0 battering they put on the Oilers in Game 4 again on Saturday in Game 6 if they’re going to keep their season alive.
They can draw on some recent elimination game experience to give them a boost, too.
During their run to the Stanley Cup Final last year, San Jose smoked the Predators in the seventh game of the second round, and fought off the Penguins in Game 5 before Pittsburgh managed to raise the Stanley Cup in Game 6.
“It’s different, there’s no doubt. There’s no hiding from [elimination],” Pete DeBoer said on Saturday morning. “You lose, you go home. … We’ve been here before, we know how to handle it, and I think we’re confident we'll show up with a real good game here tonight.”
The Sharks will surely have to be better than they were in overtime in Game 5, when the Oilers took the momentum from a late game-tying goal from Oscar Klefbom and dominated San Jose after the third intermission. David Desharnais sent the Rogers Place crowd home happy in a result that seemed in evitable the way the extra session was going, Martin Jones’ highlight reel stops aside.
Prior to that, though, San Jose played a strong road game. Even in the third period when the Oilers were pushing while down 3-2, they were kept mostly to the outside.
“I think that as much as we were maybe giving up shots, I don’t think we gave up any Grade A [chances in the third period],” Brenden Dillon said. “It’s a defenseman coming in off a change, and makes a perfect off-the-post [shot] and in.”
DeBoer pointed out that the Oilers only outshot the Sharks 8-7 in the third.
“I don’t think we gave them anything, and even on that [Klefbom goal] we had five guys back,” the coach said. “They made a good play, what are you going to do? It happens. They made a good play at the right time and converted. You can’t overthink those things.”
“We were two minutes away from playing a great road game and having a great win. To their credit, they found a way to get off the mat. We understand what happened in the overtime. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Playing at home should give the Sharks an advantage tactically as much as emotionally. In games three and four, San Jose is able to get the Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun pair out against the Connor McDavid line more easily due to last change. The Oilers’ leading scorer is still searching for his first even strength point in the series.
In Game 5, Braun played a game-high 34:30 while Vlasic was a close second at 33:49. As he is wont to do, Vlasic played off the extra time, saying he “took a nap yesterday” so he should be well-rested for Game 6.
“I love to play. The more I play the better I feel,” he said. “Playing against one of the best players in the world, so what’s not to like?”
Paul Martin, who has been in the playoffs every season of his 13-year NHL career, said: “I think we build off what we did at home last game, as far matchups and the way that we played. I think we can’t come in and play tentative hockey, we have to come in and play our hockey, and see what happens.”