You could have forgiven the San Jose Sharks if they weren’t quite sure what to do at the final horn Friday night at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
The Sharks (13-2-5, 31 points) beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-1, their first win in regulation in almost three weeks, since a 5-2 win at Ottawa on Oct. 27. Since then, six of San Jose’s eight games have gone to overtime, with three of them decided in shootouts.
Their only other regulation decision this month was a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 7.
The Sharks won for the third straight game after dropping their previous five and did so by jumping on the struggling Oilers (4-15-2, 10 points) with two goals late in the first period.
Joe Pavelski scrambled the goose egg on San Jose’s side of the scoreboard with his seventh goal of the year, a power-play goal at 15:44 of the first, and rookie Tomas Hertl followed that up less than two minutes later when he potted his team-leading 12th goal at 17:13.
Pavelski’s goal came courtesy of the type of mistakes struggling teams make. Edmonton defenseman Andrew Ference knocked Oiler goalie Devan Dubnyk out of position and all Pavelski had to do was bury the puck in the wide-open net.
Hertl’s goal came after Joe Thornton won possession of the puck behind the net and shuffled a pass through the crease to Hertl, who redirected it home.
Alex Stalock, making his second straight start in net for the Sharks, didn’t have a lot to do in the period as San Jose outshot Edmonton 14-6.
The Sharks upped the ante early in the second period thanks to another Oiler miscue.
Edmonton’s Luke Gazdic tried to feed the puck back to the point in the San Jose zone, but his poor pass led to a 3-on-2 break out for the Sharks. Patrick Marleau made the Oilers pay for the mistake with his 10th goal of the season to Dubnyk’s glove side. The tally came at the 3:45 mark of the period.
The Oilers, who it would be a dramatic understatement to say have had problems finding the net, considering they came into Friday night having been shut out three straight games at home, had a golden opportunity to get on the board seven minutes into the second period. Ryan Smyth beat Stalock on a wraparound, but his shot slid through the crease and bounced off the post.
The Oilers finally snapped their scoreless streak at Rexall Place at a whopping 214:52 on a power play goal by Nail Yakupov at 12:48 of the second. Stalock lost a rebound and the puck caromed out to Yakupov, who put it away on a one-timer for his third goal of the year.
The Oilers lost, but at least avoided becoming the first team since the Chicago Blackhawks in 1929 to be blanked at home four straight games.
It was a good win for the Sharks, particularly coming on the back end of back-to-back games. The Sharks had won in Vancouver on Thursday night in overtime (but, of course they did).
Martin Havlat was a healthy scratch on Friday night. He has just one goal and one assist in seven games since returning from a groin injury.
Stalock made 30 saves while San Jose outshot the Oilers 37-31 on the night. The Sharks conclude their season-long five-game road trip Sunday in Chicago. Faceoff is 4 p.m. Pacific.
1. Logan Couture (1 assist, 12-of-15 on faceoffs)
2. Alex Stalock (30 saves, 1 goal allowed)
3. Joe Thornton (2 assists, 8-of-13 on faceoffs, 1 hit, 1 takeaway)