Programming note: Oliers-Sharks coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California with Sharks Pregame Live
SAN JOSE – The Sharks are probably a bit embarrassed that they were the team that allowed Edmonton to end a miserable losing streak, as the Oilers had been 0-7-4 in their last 11 games before Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Sharks at Rexall Place. The victory was also the Oilers' first against the Western Conference (1-12-4).
Still, the circumstances of that match were tilted in the Edmonton’s favor even before it started. The Oilers had three full days off, while the Sharks were playing back-to-back. Their general manager, Craig MacTavish, held a press conference late in the week in which he had to answer for his team’s repeated struggles, so the Oilers players were likely to be fired up and focused.
[RECAP: Oilers put end to Sharks' win streak]
The Sharks were also shorthanded, having lost Matt Nieto and Tyler Kennedy to injuries, leaving their forward depth much to be desired.
Still, the effort wasn’t optimal, which is par for the course when it comes to the Sharks playing against bad teams. If there’s one statistic from Sunday that stands out from the Sharks’ perspective, it’s probably that they only had two shots on goal in the first period.
Starts have been a concern for the team lately, even in games that they had been winning. During a four-game winning streak, the Sharks allowed the first goal in the last three. They came back to beat Philadelphia, Boston and Calgary, but couldn't do it against the Oilers after Nail Yakupov's second period power play goal opened the scoring.
That will be the focus as they open up a five-game homestand with the Oilers on Tuesday night, looking to even the season series with perennially rebuilding Edmonton.
“I think our start is the biggest thing,” Tommy Wingels said. “Haven’t been happy with those, not just last game, but last stretch here. That’s the biggest thing, I think. If we come out ready to play, you usually have success if you’re ready to go in the first period.”
James Sheppard said: “Being at home, we’re excited to play tonight and get that last loss out of there. We’re going to come flying from the start. The start at home is going to be huge for us. We’ll try to get them out of the game as soon as possible.”
Todd McLellan was not happy with three of his four lines on Sunday, as the Wingels-Logan Couture-Patrick Marleau trio was the only group that the Sharks had going.
Perhaps a day off on Monday will help, as the Sharks complete a stretch of four games in six nights.
“We should be refreshed. That should help us,” McLellan said.
“Other than one line, we didn’t have much from three other lines. You can’t win like that.”