After splitting the first two games of the series, the Oilers and Sharks will switch battlegrounds tonight and head to the Bay Area for games three and four. Both teams have tallied wins, both teams are battling injuries, and both teams have had struggles on special teams. So far, this has been the most evenly matched series out west.
Tonight, the Oilers hope to recapture the magic of ten days ago when they used a Milan Lucic hat trick in the third period to up end the Sharks. They’ll also hope to carry over the momentum from their dominating 2-0 victory in game two on Friday night.
Cam Talbot starts for the Oilers, while Martin Jones goes for the Sharks.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: The Oilers have to stay out of the penalty box, plain and simple. While they scored two shorthanded goals on Friday, Edmonton’s penalty trouble killed them in game one. It’s a very dangerous game to give a team like San Jose so many chances on the man advantage. If Edmonton runs into penalty trouble again tonight, they could find themselves down two games to one.
San Jose: Pressure, pressure pressure! The Sharks have to get back to basics and pressure the puck carrier the way they did in game one. While it wasn’t easy for the Oilers, the Sharks didn’t force nearly as many turnovers on Friday night and seemed to back off far more than in game one.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Oscar Klefbom left game two and did not return after blocking a shot. While he missed practice yesterday, he’s expected to play tonight. His effectiveness is a big key in this game, because if he can’t play his game the Oil are in trouble. I’ll be watching Klefbom very closely tonight, the Oilers badly need him at his best.
San Jose: Logan Couture has played, but he has not been good by any means for the Sharks so far in this series. He’s looked off so far and doesn’t seem to have much jump. I give him tons of credit for even playing in this series, but the Sharks badly need him to produce if they want to regain a lead.
Oscar Klefbom is expected to play tonight, but the Oilers still recalled Griffin Reinhart from the AHL yesterday. With Bakersfield’s season now over, I’d expect a few more players to get the call in short order. Edmonton’s lineup is expected to be the same as Friday night.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Drake Caggiula – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – David Desharnais – Anton Slepyshev
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning
San Jose Sharks Lines:
Melker Karlsson – Logan Couture – Joe Pavelski
Jannik Hansen – Tomas Hertl – Mikkel Boedker
Joonas Donskoi – Patrick Marleau – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Timo Meier
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brendan Dillon – David Schlemko
Joe Thornton has not played in this series, but he took the morning skate today and feels there is a better chance that he will play. It’s expected that Thornton will take the warm-up and then decide if he can go. He’s a game time decision and obviously San Jose’s lines will change if he can go.
For Edmonton, Oscar Klefbom is the only question mark, but both Todd McLellan and Klefbom himself have said he’s good to go. Klefbom’s comments came this morning when he talked to the media prior to tonight’s game. As mentioned above, the Oilers badly need Klefbom in the lineup and performing at a high level.
Zack Kassian’s shorthanded goal on Friday was the first shorthanded goal for Edmonton in the postseason since Fernando Pisani’s tally in overtime of game five in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. Connor McDavid’s shorthanded goal gave Edmonton multiple SHG’s in a playoff game for the first time since 1983.
Remember the boost Edmonton got at the start of game one? Expect San Jose to have that boost tonight as the Sharks play in front of what should be a rowdy SAP Center crowd. That said, Edmonton knows what it takes to win in this series and have all the confidence in the world right now.
The Oilers handle the early barrage, then hit hard with their counter punch. The Oilers will take game three by a final score of 3-1. Draisaitl, Eberle and Letestu score for Edmonton, while Donskoi gets the San Jose tally.