Oilers Spoil Wilson’s 1,000 Game &Hertl’s Return, End Sharks 6-Game Win Streak 4-1

January 26, 2017

NHL, San Jose Sharks

Edmonton Oilers’ Cam Talbot (33) stops a shot against the San Jose Sharks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. Edmonton won 4-1. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson joined rarified air Thursday night, joining the elite club of former plays to appear in 1,000 NHL games and serve as general manager for another 1,000. While the feat is a nice accomplishment for Wilson, he’d surely have preferred a better outcome, with the Sharks seeing a 6-game win streak snapped with an 4-1  loss to the visiting Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton (28-15-8) pulled even with the Pacific Division leaders San Jose (31-17-2) but the Sharks hold the advantage with a game in hand and 29 regulation and overtime wins to Edmonton’s 24.
“It’s tough after a game like this to feel good,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. “But it’s been a hell of a month. I’m really proud of the group and how we’ve dug in and handled the adversity of injuries and travel and schedule.”

Cam Talbot made 32 saves in net for the Oilers, while Logan Couture scored his second goal in as many games in the final game before Sunday’s NHL All-Star game. Tomas Hertl returned to the lineup for the first time since reinjuring his knee November 17th. The winger had no shots on goal or points, registered 4 hits and was a -1.

“It was different,” said Hertl. “The last couple months I was practicing by myself. I think it wasn’t bad but I need to keep working.”

Couture remains red hot for the Sharks, picking up his 7th point in 5 games after beating Talbot for his 17th goal of the season 4:05 into the game. The 1-0 goal was a display of passing that would make the Golden State Warriors proud with Patrick Marleau and Mikkel Boedker both passing up good shots from opposite wings to give Couture the dead-to-rights snipe from the low slot.

Much like Winnipeg Tuesday night, the Oilers had a late-period answer, scoring with 5.6 seconds left in the period. After sustained possession in the offensive zoned, defenseman Andrej Sekera potted his 6th goal of the season. The Czech used a screen from Patrick Maroon to slip the puck past Jones and tie the game 1-1. Connor McDavid picked up an assist on the goal, good for his league-leading 58th point.

The Sharks held the Oilers without a shot over the first 15 minutes of the second period but couldn’t capitalize on a power play advantage.

“Historically with where this group has had this power play,” said DeBoer when asked if the struggling power play was of concern heading into the break. “With what a weapon it has been. And it hasn’t been. We have to find a way.”

The Oilers would seize their chance after Brent Burns was sent to the box for slashing with 3:40 left in the period. Sekera, not known for his proclivity to light the lamp, proved otherwise Thursday night. After tying the game in the first period, Sekera would hand the Oilers a 2-1 lead with a point shot throw a crowd of skaters. The shot would miss Milan Lucic and find its way into the back of the goal with 2:51 in the period. It was the second two-goal game of Sekera’s career and his first since November of 2013.

The Sharks fell victim to a similar fate in the 3rd period. Despite earning a four-minute power play on Adam Larsson’s hi-sticking double minor on Joe Thornton just 56 seconds into the period, San Jose would cede the next goal. Drake Caggiula would put Edmonton up 3-1 with 8:29 left in regulation on just Edmonton’s second shot of the period and first since the 9:56 mark of the period. Caggiula would block Joe Pavelski’s shot in the defensive end then take the puck on a breakaway. The forward would fire a snap shot over Jones’ glove-side for his 4th goal of the season.

“Their first two goals were weird bounces,” said Sharks defenseman Brent Burns. “The third goal was another close little bounce. We’ve been on the other end of those the last 5 or 6. That’s usual the difference in hockey. It’s pretty small.”

Captain Connor McDavid would pick up his second point of the game on an empty-netter with 1:52 left in regulation, his 17th goal of the year.

“It wasn’t the defense that lost us this game,” said DeBoer. “It was not scoring.”

The Sharks will send 4 representatives to Sunday’s All-Star festivities in Los Angeles. Defenseman Brent Burns, Captain Joe Pavelski and goalie Martin Jones all earned honors. Behind the bench for the Pacific Division squad will be Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. After the lights dim in Hollywood, it’s back to work for San Jose. The Sharks take on Chicago at home Tuesday night.

“It’s good, you get a little break here,” said Burns. “Then you come back, get your game back quick then get a nice break again to look forward to. Then you rest up and look forward to the final push.”

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