The San Jose Sharks take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight at SAP Center in a battle of teams atop the Pacific Division. The Oilers currently trail San Jose in the standings due to fewer wins, but the Sharks have two games in hand on the resurgent Oilers. This is the final stop for the Oilers’ three-game road trip before the holiday break.
The starters in goal for tonight’s match-up are likely to be the two most heavily worked netminders in the NHL. San Jose’s Martin Jones will be making his 30th start of the season and Cam Talbot will be making his 32nd starting lineup. Talbot and Jones are also the top two netminders in terms of minutes played. For the Sharks, some starts for Aaron Dell is on their list for Santa. For the Oilers, Jonas Gustavsson has given head coach Todd McLellen no choice but to turn to Talbot.
Update: David Schlemko will sit for the second game in a row as Dylan DeMelo slots in on the bottom pairing. Joel Ward also is inserted back into the lineup and Tommy Wingels will sit as head coach Peter DeBoer continues his recent experimentation with the roster.
Ward back in tonight, Wingels out. DeMelo in, Schlemko still out. #SJSharks
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) December 23, 2016
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The Sharks are coming off a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames two nights ago in San Jose. After a scoreless first period, San Jose erupted for four goals in the middle frame with Joonas Donskoi scoring a pair of goals which doubled his season scoring total in under two minutes.
The Oilers won a 3-2 decision over the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, AZ on Wednesday to end a 25-game losing streak against the Desert Dogs. Talbot made 34 saves for the Oilers and Matt Hendricks’ first goal of the season would be the game-winner. The third period was a march to the penalty box with 73 penalty minutes handed out. Eric Gryba received two fighting majors, both at the 5:42 mark of the third.
The Oilers have been deadly once they venture out of Rexall Place. Edmonton has points in 14 of 19 road games, including 10 wins, this season. They lead the NHL in goals (61), power-play goals (17), power play efficiency (30.4%) and shots on goal (591) on the road.
No WJC for McDavid
Connor McDavid has been a major factor in the Oilers’ return to relevance. The first player selected in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft leads the NHL in assists and points, with 28 and 40 respectively. McDavid, 19, is so young that he is still eligible for the World Junior Championship which kicks off on December 26. He was never considered for Team Canada, and Edmonton would have been crazy to loan him, but it goes to show just how special he is.
Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:30 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels – CSN-CA, SNOL, CSN-SA
Radio: Sharks Radio Network, 630 CHED
2016-17 Season Series:
First Game of the Season
San Jose Sharks – 20-12-1 – 41 Points
Home Record: 11-4-0
Hot Players: Joe Pavelski, Paul Martin
Key Injuries: Tomas Hertl
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley – Melker Karlsson – Joel Ward
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – Dylan DeMelo
Martin Jones (Likely)
Edmonton Oilers – 18-12-5 – 41 Points
Road Record: 10-5-4
Hot Players: Leon Draisaitl
Key Injuries: Mark Fayne, Darnell Nurse, Andrew Ference, Iiro Pakarinen
Milan Lucic – Connor McDavid – Jordan Eberle
Patrick Maroon – Leon Draisaitl – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Benoit Pouliot – Drake Caggiula – Jesse Puljujarvi
Matt Hendricks – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Oscar Kelfbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Brandon Davidson – Eric Gryba
Cam Talbot (Likely)
1)Six of the Oilers’ projected skaters were selected within the top five picks of their draft class: McDavid (2015) and Ryan Nuget-Hopkins (2011) were first overall selections; Leon Draisaitl (2014) was taken third overall; Jesse Puljujarvi (2015), Benoit Pouliot (2005), and Adam Larsson (2011) were all fourth overall selections. The Sharks only feature two: Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau who went 1-2 in the 1997 draft.
2)Brent Burns was held off the scoresheet for the first time in eight games against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday and is now tied with Joe Pavelski for the Sharks scoring lead with 30 points. Burns is the Sharks leading goal scorer with 13 and leads the NHL with 137 shots on goal. Burns has at least a point in 22 of San Jose’s 33 games.
3)The race in the Pacific Division gets tighter by the day. Only five points separate the top five teams in the division, with the Sharks and Oilers at the top of the heap.
4)The Sharks are 50-39-12-9 all-time against Edmonton and are 21-4-5 in their last 30 games versus the Oilers