HIGHLIGHTS: Sharks roll past Edmonton with six-goal period
Dan Boyle hasn't played since leaving the Sharks' game Sunday against Vancouver in the third period with a bloody nose. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE – The last time the Sharks and Oilers lined up against one another, it was over fairly quickly. Just nine days ago at Rexall Place, San Jose bombarded Edmonton with six first period goals and cruised to a comfortable 6-3 win in what was the Oilers’ home opener.
Suffice it to say, the Sharks don’t expect Thursday’s rematch at HP Pavilion to be quite so painless.
“They were a young team that was real excited at home in front of their crowd. They made some mistakes,” Todd MeLellan said. “I haven’t seen them make those mistakes since that first period.”
Joe Pavelski, who has three goals in the last two games, said: “We know they’re going to raise their game up. They are not going to want something like that to happen, so their start is going to be important. It should be an exciting opening five minutes.”
The Oilers’ biggest offensive threats include youngsters Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Taylor Hall and Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, while among San Jose’s leading scorers are the over-30 club of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle.
Is there a sense that the veteran Sharks can still teach the kids a lesson?
“Well, we did,” Joe Thornton said, smiling. “They’ve got a young team, but a win is a win.”
Boyle in, Demers available
Boyle, who missed the third period of Sunday’s game against Vancouver with a bloody nose and Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim with the flu, is back.
It was a rough couple of days for the defenseman, who missed Wednesday’s practice, too.
“Whatever I had, it kicked my ass, for sure,” he said.
Nick Petrecki will come out of the lineup after making his NHL debut on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Jason Demers declared himself ready to play on Wednesday after missing the first six games with a fractured wrist. Whether or not he plays, or who he would play for, is the coach’s decision. Demers skated longer than his teammates during the pregame skate, which is a pretty good indicator that he won’t be in the lineup, but not a sure thing.
Even with all of the injuries, including Brent Burns, the Sharks are second in the league in goals-against per game (1.67).
“With Matty Irwin playing the way he is, I think he’s shocked a lot of people how he’s just stepped in and played real, real good off the hop. Not having Burnzie and JD for this long, it shows we’ve got a lot of depth back there,” Thornton said.
Last team without a loss
The Chicago Blackhawks fell to 6-0-1 on Wednesday night with a shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild. That means the Sharks are the final team in the NHL without a defeat.
“I like being a part of that,” Boyle said. “We’ll probably lose at some point, but it’s fun to have something like that going for us. We’ll see how far we can take this.”
Pavelski pointed out that the Sharks are still a point behind Chicago, with a game in hand. “They’ve played seven games, so we have another game to catch up to them.”
Penalty kill clicking
The Sharks have killed off 13 consecutive opponent power plays, including 7-for-7 against Vancouver on Sunday and 4-for-4 vs. the Ducks. It’s still early, but a major weakness of the team last season is becoming a strength.
Pavelski said: “It’s won us a game in that Vancouver game. That was extremely huge for us. It gave us confidence and bought us some time to stay in the game and get going. It’s felt good, but that being said, there’s been a lot of hard work. A lot of people have blocked shots, sacrificed and made some good plays on it."
The Oilers have the league’s second best power play (34.4 percent), trailing only the Sharks. Yakupov’s slap shot from the circle in the first game came with a man advantage when he ripped it past Antti Niemi.
In order to make room for Demers on the roster, the Sharks had to waive Frazer McLaren, who was picked up by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday morning. McLaren hadn’t played since opening night in Calgary.
The 6-5, 240-pound McLaren played in 40 games with the Sharks over parts of four seasons since he was drafted by San Jose late in the 2007 draft.
“Organizations have to make decisions, and we had to make a tough one yesterday putting Fraz on waivers,” McLellan said. “It doesn’t surprise me that he was picked up. He is a quality individual and fulfills a role in the league and on many teams, and fulfills that role well. He’ll do well in Toronto and we wish him all the best, and we’re proud that he was a Shark at one point.”
Antti Niemi (5-0-0, 1.97 goals-against average, .933 save percentage) will start for the Sharks. He’s 4-0-1 with a 2.36 GAA and .901 SP in his career against the Oilers.
For the Oilers, there’s a chance Nikolai Khabibulin could make his season debut. The 40-year-old veteran was recently taken off of injured reserve by Edmonton while Devan Dubnyk played last night in Phoenix.