Experience gives Sharks an edge in Game 1

Malcolm Fuller
April 14, 2017

The game saw Edmonton jump out to a 2-0 first-period lead only to get outshot 34-9 the rest of the way.

So, of course the Oilers' first playoff series of the McLellan Era would feature the San Jose Sharks as the opposition. There were chances for the Oilers to stretch the lead - Connor McDavid snuck behind the defense for two Grade-A chances - but in the end, it looked and felt like the Sharks were more comfortable with the amped-up intensity of the playoff environment. They were forcing pucks to one another and seemed disjointed off the rush. "He's a great player and he's a guy you have to pay attention to, but we've learned over the season they're much more than that and much deeper than that".

"The beauty of the Stanley Cup playoffs is all it takes for a team to get in and once you get in really anything can happen", said San Jose Sharks Spokesman Jim Sparaco.

"We addressed a few things today, one of them being shift length", said winger Jordan Eberle.

"Every time we get him, we like playing with him". The guys who kill play a lot of minutes and the guys who don't, don't. "We will be better next time".

Rogers Place was rocking with anticipation Wednesday night, and not just because of the Edmonton Oilers' first home playoff game since 2006.

The Sharks played without star center Joe Thornton, who is day-to-day with a left knee injury. The availability of Thornton and Couture is crucial to San Jose's success. The Oilers, led by Hart Trophy candidate Connor McDavid, ended the season winning 12 of their final 14 to finish second in the Pacific.

The Sharks are the defending Western Conference champions, with savvy veterans who have been to the postseason plenty of times.

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"We were confident we could go out and turn things around (after the first period)", said Couture. I have a feeling we're going to come back in game two and we're going to win it. "It's just a matter of outworking and outplaying them".

San Jose scored on the power play 1:43 into the second period when Joel Ward slammed in a goal mouth pass. San Jose was just 19 in scoring at 2.7 goals per game and 25 on the power play at 16.7 percent (last among playoff teams).

McDavid passed the puck to Mark Letestu, who rifled it off Jones' pad right to Lucic.

Then again, the Stanley Cup playoffs always provide a new atmosphere: full crowds, full beards and endless levels of enthusiasm.

With four skaters aside, Tomas Hertl fought off a check from Oilers defenseman Kris Russell, took the puck in front and got a shot on Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot.

The teams meet in Game 2 in Edmonton on Friday night, before continuing the series in San Jose on Sunday.

"We're here now and that's all the matters" Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer's words following his team's 3-2 victory in Edmonton rang true. Stew MacDonald with the Oilers Entertainment Group said. Their depth showed in that run to the Stanley Cup Final past year, because no team gets into round four on one line and a hot goalie. They did a good job. "We're going to have to continue that in the playoffs". Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said it will be Thornton's call whether he plays or not.

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