Sharks-Oilers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 23, 2012
The San Jose Sharks are trying to re-establish some positive momentum. Their meetings with the Edmonton Oilers tend to provide a great deal of it. The Sharks attempt to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season by continuing their dominance of the Oilers on Monday night at Rexall Place. San Jose (26-14-5) has dropped three of four following a 10-1-2 run. The recent struggles continued with Saturday's 4-3 loss at Vancouver, as the Sharks dropped the season series 1-2-1 to the team that eliminated them from the Western Conference finals last year. "After last year, putting us out in the playoffs, you never like to lose to these guys," said center Logan Couture, who scored two goals Saturday. "It fires me up and it fires up a bunch of guys in the room so it's frustrating we couldn't win this one." San Jose will now try to focus on winning the middle contest of its three-game road trip, which ends Tuesday in Calgary. A visit to last-place Edmonton (17-26-4) may be just what the club needs. The Sharks have won 10 of their last 12 meetings with the Oilers, including a 3-2 victory at home Dec. 17. They're also 7-1-1 in their last nine visits to Rexall Place, winning both meetings there last season by a combined margin of 10-4. Patrick Marleau's 28 goals in 52 career games against the Oilers are his second-most against any opponent. He scored against them last month, but hasn't done so in three games at Edmonton since netting a hat trick and adding an assist in a win Nov. 27, 2009. Marleau is also mired in an overall four-game drought without a point. The Canucks limited him to two shots Saturday. Joe Thornton - who set up one of Couture's goals against the Sharks - has 17 points during a nine-game scoring streak against Edmonton, including a goal in last month's victory. While the Sharks are trying to avoid their third three-game slide of the season, the Oilers have dropped eight of nine and three in a row following Saturday's 6-2 home loss to the rival Flames. "It's unacceptable," said left wing Ryan Smyth, who had a goal and an assist versus Calgary. "Everybody has to look in the mirror and take responsibility right now. We have to come and play hard with pride, character and care." Smyth's two points Saturday snapped a stretch of eight games in which he recorded none. He has just one goal and one assist in his last six games against San Jose. Rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is trying to end a goal drought of his own. He's gone a season-high 10 games without a tally, including the most recent meeting with the Sharks. The 18-year-old center, though, has five assists in that span to give him 35 points on the season - tops among lead NHL rookies. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton's leader with 17 goals, has two goals and one assist in four games versus San Jose, but they've all ended in Oilers losses. He had a goal in last month's matchup.
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