Labanc, Sharks scrape out 3-2 overtime win against Oilers

December 23, 2016

NHL, San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks’ Kevin Labanc (62) celebrates his goal with teammate Logan Couture (39) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in San Jose, Calif. San Jose won 3-2. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Ben Leonard

SAN JOSE — Even after he watched his former team make it to the Stanley Cup Final this year, former San Jose Sharks’ and current Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan is on the best terms with the Sharks organization, “friends” with current head coach Peter DeBoer, as CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports.

But that didn’t stop the two squads from getting chippy at the SAP Center Friday night.

The Sharks and Oilers fought three times and combined for 40 penalty minutes and 41 hits before Sharks right wing Kevin Labanc scored his second goal of the game in overtime to take down Edmonton 3-2. With their sixth victory in their last seven contests, San Jose (21-12-1) took sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division before their four-day Christmas break, moving one point ahead of resurgent Edmonton (18-12-6). At this time last season, the Oilers were 27th in the NHL standings.

“Both teams understood what was at stake, first place going into the break,” Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillion said. “It was a typical Western Conference matchup… Obviously, with four more times against each other it’s just going to get bigger and bigger… Guys were finishing their checks and guys are going hard to the net, you get a couple of penalties, going back at each other. It’s something where everyone top to bottom is chipping in and sticking up for one another.”

That hard-nosed style came back to bite McLellan and his revamped Oilers near the close of first period, when left wing Matt Hendricks earned a five minute major penalty for fighting Dillon, the first fight of the game. The Sharks answered on the ensuing power play when Joe Pavelski netted his 12th goal of the season just 31 seconds into the second period, slapping a laser into the top right corner of the net past goalkeeper Cam Talbot to give the Sharks a 1-0 advantage. The goal marked the 300th assist of defenseman Brent Burns’

The Sharks answered on the ensuing power play when Joe Pavelski netted his 12th goal of the season just 31 seconds into the second period, slapping a laser into the top right corner of the net past goalkeeper Cam Talbot to give the Sharks a 1-0 advantage. The goal marked the 300th assist of defenseman Brent Burns’ career, and was the 700th in Joe Thornton’s time in San Jose.

“I finished my check, and he kind of looked at me,” Dillon said of Hendricks. “I didn’t know if we were fighting or not, I asked and Hendricks came over. It was fortunate for us to get the power play advantage and to be able cash in there.”

The Sharks had struggled on the power play all season long, ranking 20th in the NHL, and those woes continued after that first goal, finishing the night 1 for 4 on power plays.

The Sharks had the 31-18 edge in shots taken, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Oilers at bay for the entire game. Although San Jose held that 1-0 lead and outshot Edmonton 22 to 9 through the first two periods, physical play from Edmonton kept them close despite failing to light up the lamp.

San Jose largely held down the Oilers’ potent offense, led by the NHL’s points leader in second-year center Connor McDavid, until the third period by shutting out Edmonton on their six power play attempts and forcing 11 takeaways.

“We could have been up by a couple with the way we played through the first two periods,” DeBoer said. “Their goalie gave them a chance to hang around, or we could have been up by a couple more and it would have been a different game. They got good goaltending, which helped them hang around, and they don’t need many looks to score.”

After being moved to the second line with center Leon Draisaitl, second on the Oilers in points, McDavid scored in a flash for Edmonton in the third period, knotting up the score at 1-1 with 12 minutes left to play. Arguably the best player in the NHL, McDavid also picked up an assist later in the period, his 29th of the season.

But from there on out, it became the Labanc show. Labanc answered McDavid’s goal just two minutes, lighting up the lamp in the third period to give San Jose the 2-1 lead. When Edmonton forced overtime, Labanc stepped up once again.

The rookie forward from Brooklyn, N.Y. beat Talbot from just in front of him, giving him the fifth goal of his young career and sending the crowd at the SAP Center into a frenzy.

“Christmas will be nice, but being in first place in the division feels better,” Labanc said.

 

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About bentleonard18

Ben Leonard is the head writer and Director of Business Development for Bay Area Sports Talk Association. He is also an author for Rule of Tree (SBNation), Sports Radio Service and OutsidePitchMLB, an official affiliate of the MLB. He has a passion for baseball and college football.

View all posts by bentleonard18

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