NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, October 23rd
(All times eastern)
San Jose Sharks (2-2-1) at Edmonton Oilers (2-3-0), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Sharks were able to halt a three-game slide last time
out. The Oilers would love to do the same tonight, but that would require
posting back-to-back wins over San Jose for the first time in three seasons.
Edmonton tries to avoid a fourth straight defeat tonight when it hosts San
Jose at Rexall Place.
After finishing with an NHL-low 62 points a season ago, the Oilers got their
2010-11 campaign off to a good start with consecutive home wins over Calgary
and Florida. However, Edmonton has dropped three straight since, losing road
games in Minnesota and Calgary before Thursday's 4-2 home defeat versus the
Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky netted power-play goals, but the Oilers failed
to capitalize on their eight other chances on the man advantage. Nikolai
Khabibulin gave up three goals on 24 shots.
"I thought we had a solid game, I thought all the forwards and the [defense]
were battling hard," said Oilers forward Andrew Cogliano. "It's too bad they
get a couple of the goals that they really kind of don't deserve, and we push
and push and can't find the back of the net and we end up losing the game."
Lengthy losing streaks were a problem for the Oilers last year -- they lost 13
straight and 20 of 21 at one point -- and they will try to contain this
current skid tonight. That may be tough versus the Sharks, who won six in a
row and nine of 13 over the Oilers before Edmonton notched a 5-1 home victory
in the last meeting on March 21. That also ended San Jose's four-game win
streak at Rexall Place.
The Oilers haven't bested the Sharks in consecutive games since Feb. 14 and
March 16, 2008.
After picking up a win in Sweden over Columbus in its season-opener on Oct. 8,
San Jose went 0-2-1 over its next three games before notching its first
victory in North America this season on Thursday. That 4-2 win came over
Colorado and featured a pair of power-play goals from Joe Pavelski.
"On the power play tonight, we got to the net well and established our
presence," said Pavelski. "We kept it simple and we grinded out a win."
Scott Nichol scored and Logan Couture sealed it with an empty-net goal, while
Antero Niittymaki made 29 saves. Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau both
assisted on Pavelski's tallies.
It is unknown if Niittymaki or Antti Niemi will be in goal tonight. Niittymaki
is 1-0-1 on the season and has stopped 51 of the 56 shots he has faced, while
Niemi is 1-2-0 and has yielded 11 goals on 91 shots.
Niittymaki lost his only career start versus the Oilers, while Niemi has won
Khabibulin, meanwhile, is 17-9-2 with a pair of ties and 2.39 goals-against
average lifetime when facing the Sharks.
10/23 10:40:43 ET