Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Sport | By Ellis Neal

Banged-up Sharks try to slow down McDavid and Oilers

The Oilers won 12 of their last 14 regular-season games, while San Jose dropped nine of 13.

EDMONTON, Alberta Melker Karlsson scored the biggest goal of his career Wednesday night, burying a pass from Patrick Marleau to give the Sharks a stirring 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers in the playoff opener for both teams. While the Sharks have a fortitude of highly skilled forwards, along with the best defensemen in the league Brent Burns. You can't contain guys like that. But they tilted the ice from the end of the first period and never relinquished control to the Oilers.

But things went from bad to worse when dominant centre Joe Thornton got tangled up along the boards against Vancouver two weeks ago and injured his left knee.

With 20-year-old phenom Connor McDavid at the center of it all, the Oilers have as good a shot as anyone to advance through a very winnable Western Conference bracket and return to the Stanley Cup Final.

If Thornton plays on Friday, that should be a huge lift for the Sharks. They were almost 12 per cent below the league average in the percentage of loose pucks recovered in their defensive zone, a brutal performance.

"We've been a disciplined team all season long but last night was one of those nights where we took more penalties then we usually would", said Gretzky". Logan Couture, who had 52 points in 73 games, missed the last seven games of the regular season after suffering severe facial injuries from taking a puck to the mouth. While future glory is nearly pre-ordained for a player as talented as McDavid, he's likely going to get his nose bloodied this year: either figuratively, literally, or both.

Game 2 goes Friday in Edmonton.

Lucic said he planned to play his usual hard-hitting brand of hockey Wednesday.

The Oilers have an explosive top line, a solid goaltender in Cam Talbot, good power-play and penalty-kill units, and a sturdy back end. The Oilers' previous visit to the playoffs was in 2006, when they got all the way to the Stanley Cup final. But despite a long history with numerous key players on the Sharks, McLellan sees little advantage. However, the team fell two games short after losing to the Pittsburg Penguins. When the Sharks are given too many chances and time in the zone and many power-play chances, they will eventually score.

"I think it's going to irritate some people who paid good money", 11-year season ticket holder Ryan Batty said.
Sixteen of 18 San Jose skaters had at least one shot on net in Game 1. Jones solidified himself last season as the undisputed starter for the Sharks but has shown poor efforts down the stretch.

At Rogers Place alone, thousands of fans will be in the building for the team's first playoff game in this arena - while numerous fans paid for tickets to sit in seats, and more than a thousand fans will be watching the game on TV screens in Ford Hall.

Karlsson's goal came at the 16:38 mark of overtime, as the Sharks erased a two-goal Edmonton first period lead to take a 1-0 series lead. McDavid has been brilliant with Four goals and four assists in fives game against the Sharks.

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