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Special teams costs Sharks in Game 2
Oilers in with pair of short-handed goals
4/14/17 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks special teams play has been their Achilles heel all season. It proved to be their soft underbelly on Friday night, after dropping Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarter Final series to the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. The Sharks went 0-for-6 on the power play and allowed the Oilers to generate all their offense on a pair of short-handed goals in a 2-0 decision in Alberta.

Neither team would score even up, but the Oilers didn't need any conventional scoring after they bagged a pair of tallies while the Sharks were flubbing the man advantage. San Jose has converted on 1-of-12 power play chances in the series. It was a stark contrast from their special teams output from last season's playoffs, which vaulted them into the Stanley Cup Finals.

An 8% conversion rate isn't going to equate to a return to the Finals, so the Sharks have their work cut out for them. They return home with the home ice advantage after splitting with the Oilers in the first two games of the series, but the Sharks have to be kicking themselves for not capitalizing on all the chances the undisciplined Oilers afforded them on Friday night.

The opening period was a tight checking affair that saw the Oilers play a little more conservatively than in Game 1, and the Sharks buttoning down defensively so as to not give up the early lead.

Edmonton still tested Martin Jones throwing 9 shots at him, but the Sharks goaltender was much sharper to start the game than in his previous start. The Oilers were particularly interested in directing shots toward Jones 5-hole, but the netminder settled in and denied 3 solid scoring chances.

Zach Kassian energized the sellout crowd with a hit on Logan Couture that ended with Kassian leaving his feet as he bull-dozed the Sharks forward. No penalty was called on the play, which seemed to spark his club.

Both teams traded penalties in the period before Patrick Maroon took an ill-advised cross checking penalty with 15 seconds remaining in the frame. San Jose didn't do anything with in during the limited window to end the period, then fumbled away the lead with some shoddy puck management early in the 2nd.

Joe Pavelski tried handling the puck just inside the Oilers blueline when he coughed it up to Kassian. The Oilers forward carried the puck up ice uncontested and snapped a shot past Jones for his 1st career playoff goal. the short-handed tally stung given all the positives the Sharks worked to amass in the opening frame.

Edmonton was an equal opportunity offender, taking a pair of penalties in each of the three periods. Maroon's elbowing penalty at 7:02 of the 2nd was followed by a holding penalty by Darnell Nurse 5 minutes later, but the Sharks did nothing with their chances.

Nurse's infraction was a necessity as the Sharks were knocking on the doorstep, and the Oilers made the right call, hauling down Brent Burns in order to prevent a would be goal.

The 1-0 game was still very much in San Jose's reach, and another pair of Oiler penalties set the Sharks up nicely, but Edmonton's captain Connor McDavid had another idea. The young star scooped up a turnover in his own zone then raced up the left wing. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic had position on McDavid, but he failed to get a stick in front of McDavid's shot from the outside of the left circle. That shot beat Jones low stick side.

It was a stoppable shot, but par for the course for San Jose. Mediocre defense and horrendous goal keeping was all McDavid needed to record his first career playoff goal.

Perhaps the Sharks will lean on their experience and will grab the series lead right back. We'll find out on Sunday night when the series shifts to San Jose. The 6th seed Sharks will have 48 hours to figure out how to put together a special teams unit that can score. Or not. Game Notes:

* Joe Thornton was a scratch once again, as he continues to rehabilitate is injured knee.

* The Oilers leaned on physical play, out-hitting the Sharks 41-21. The approach led to more penalties than the Oilers would have preferred, but if the Sharks can't score on the power play, then it's a solid tactic.

* Edmonton out-shot the Sharks 36-16. What was most concerning was the 3rd period, which saw Edmonton throw 15 shots at Martin Jones, even tough the Sharks had a pair of power plays in the period.

* Only 9 Shark skaters recorded shots on goal in the game. Only 2 Oilers failed to record a shot on Jones.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 0 0
EDM 0 1 1 2
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, EDM, Kassian 1 (Letestu), 0:42, (sh).
3rd period - 2, EDM, McDavid 1 (unassisted), 10:31, (sh).
1st period - Martin, SJ (slashing), 4:15; Kassian, EDM (roughing), 13:04; Maroon, EDM (cross checking), 19:15.
2nd period - Maroon, EDM (elbowing), 7:02; Nurse, EDM (holding), 12:29.
3rd period - Dillon, SJ (interference), 3:34; Larsson, EDM (high sticking), 6:03; Lucic, EDM (high sticking), 8:52; Schlemko, SJ (holding), 13:11.
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 36 34
EDM - Talbot 16 16
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 6 6 4 16
EDM 9 12 15 36
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 6
EDM 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Zach Kassian
Cam Talbot
Connor McDavid
Rogers Place - 18,347
Referees: Lee, Sutherland. Linesmen: Gibbons, Heyer.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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