SAN JOSE – Judging by the standings alone, any time is a good time to play the Edmonton Oilers.
That becomes especially true if you’re the Sharks on Tuesday night. San Jose lost its starting goalie in the morning, its best defenseman in the first period, and two more forwards in the second period.
Despite the short bench, San Jose was able to get past Edmonton, 5-2, to open up a five-game homestand on the right note. It also puts Sunday’s lackluster effort at Rexall Place, a 2-1 Oilers win, in the rearview mirror.
Still, the injuries are concerning. Antti Niemi “took a shot in the pregame skate,” according to Todd McLellan, so in went Alex Stalock. “We’ll see how [Niemi] feels tomorrow,” McLellan said.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic was nailed along the boards by Tyler Pitlick late in the opening frame, and was kept out for “precautionary type stuff,” according to McLellan.
Melker Karlsson left in the second period after blocking a Keith Aulie shot and was able to return in the third, but Mike Brown wasn’t so lucky. The fourth line energy winger had to be helped off of the ice in the second period after finishing a check on Edmonton’s Matt Hendricks, and looked like he couldn’t put any weight on his right side.
“Brownie is a lower body, and he’s going to be out for a while,” McLellan said.
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The Sharks blew a 2-0 first period lead, but then overcame the short bench to tally the final three goals in winning their fifth game in the last six, all in regulation.
“Guys get to play more. It’s fun,” said Joe Pavelski, who led the Sharks’ attack with two goals. “As a hockey player you want as much ice time as you can get. It’s good to see other guys get a little bit extra, and they handled the situation well.”
Barclay Goodrow, who scored his first career goal in the first period to give the Sharks an early two-goal lead, said: “You just need to make sure you’re paying attention on the bench. There are different lines going out all the time, different combinations. It was tough to lose those guys, but I think everyone else stepped up and I think we played a pretty complete game tonight.”
Stalock earned his third win with 25 saves, and said he found out in the afternoon that he’s have to man the crease for the second straight game. His best stop came in the second period when Edmonton was threatening to pull ahead, as he got his left pad on a Leon Draisaitl attempt about four minutes into the middle frame to keep it 2-2.
Prior to that, the Sharks scored the first goal for just the second time in their last 10 games on Pavelski’s highlight reel backhander. Goodrow’s marker, in which Karlsson recorded his first NHL point, increased that to 2-0 before the Oilers even had a shot on goal five and a half minutes into the game.
Instead of piling on, though, the momentum started to turn after a Brent Burns tripping minor at 7:33. Jordan Eberle and David Perron capitalized on some sloppy San Jose plays in the defensive zone, including turnovers by Joe Thornton and Brenden Dillon.
“In my opinion we played two first periods, the first 10 and the second 10,” McLellan said. “The first 10 we did the things we wanted to do. The second 10 we started to bring pucks back, we started to pass through people rather than around them or by them, and it ends up in your net. The positive thing is the guys accepted those facts between periods, and we went back to playing the way we needed to play to win.”
Pavelski said: “We were ready to play and we got a couple of quick goals and the crowd gets into it, and we feed off that. Obviously, you’d like to continue with that. We could do a better job there, but we came back out and re-established things.”
It was the Sharks fourth straight win at home, where they will remain for the next four games, including another visit from Edmonton next week. They will get a chance to rest, and for some players recover, in time for Thursday’s date with the Wild.
“There were definitely times tonight we could have been better,” Pavelski said. “But to start winning at home feels good.”