Sharks-Oilers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 21, 2013
The San Jose Sharks appear eager to leave behind the memory of a rare first-round playoff exit last season. Paced by some exciting young talent, the Edmonton Oilers might finally have a team capable of ending their lengthy postseason drought. Both teams look to build on season-opening victories when the Sharks try to continue their recent road success against the Oilers on Tuesday night. Patrick Marleau scored twice in the second period as San Jose recorded four answered goals in a 4-1 win at Calgary on Sunday. Though the Sharks fell behind while being outshot 16-9 in the first, they regrouped to score twice on the power play and take control over the final 40 minutes. Antti Niemi finished with 31 saves for San Jose. "That first period was a little bit of a shock, but after that the guys fell into it and you get into a rhythm,'' said Marleau, coming off his fourth straight season of at least 30 goals. "It's going to be a learning curve, a little bit of rust for all teams. You try and get those points as quick as possible, especially with a shortened season.'' If the Sharks are harboring a sense of urgency it's likely because they were more than ready to hit the ice after 2011-12. San Jose's 96 points were its fewest in six seasons, and a five-game loss to St. Louis marked only the second time in eight years that the Sharks were eliminated in the opening round. "We've still got a lot of work to do and we realize that, but starting on the road and getting the first win was huge.'' said star center Joe Thornton, who had two assists. Thornton has a goal and 11 assists in his last six games at Edmonton, while Marleau has been held without a goal in his past five there. San Jose went 2-0-2 against the Oilers last season, and has gone 8-1-2 in its last 11 road games in the series. However, the past three meetings at Edmonton were decided one goal. The Oilers rallied from a 2-0 deficit and won 3-2 in a shootout at Vancouver on Sunday. Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and scored the shootout winner for Edmonton, which killed all five minor penalties and got 27 saves from Devan Dubnyk. The Oilers hope talented young forwards Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and 2012 No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov, along with veterans such as Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth, have them poised to reach the playoffs. Edmonton hasn't been in the postseason since reaching the 2006 Stanley Cup finals. Twelve Oilers played either in the AHL or Europe during the lockout. "It's only one game," Hemsky said. "We have a lot of great players, we have lots of depth now - guys who can play different positions." Eberle, who led Edmonton with 34 goals and 42 assists last season, began the comeback with a goal Sunday. He has four goals and an assist in seven games against the Sharks. Niemi is 3-0-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average versus Edmonton.
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