The Edmonton Oilers will try to win back-to-back games for just the third time in in 21 games on Friday night when they visit the San Jose Sharks.
Edmonton snapped a two-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory at Anaheim on Wednesday, jumping out to a 4-1 first-period lead and extending the advantage to 6-1 after two periods. The Oilers tied a team road record with 53 shots on goal that had been last accomplished in 1981.
Forward Klim Kostin led the way with a pair of goals and Connor McDavid added his league-leading 35th goal and an assist for Edmonton, which entered Thursday’s action clinging to the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 47 points. The Oilers, who travel to Las Vegas to face the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday in the second half of a back-to-back, have won two games in a row just twice since Dec. 1.
McDavid also leads the league in points with 79 — 16 more than teammate Leon Draisaitl, who is second. McDavid said it’s important for his team to string some wins together if they want to make a strong push to garner one of the three playoff spots in the Pacific.
“It’s a tight race,” McDavid. “Really tight. It always is. I’ve been saying this all year: Someone’s going to put a stretch together. L.A.’s kind of done that and Seattle as well. So it’s a big opportunity for us to respond.”
Edmonton had a five-game win streak from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1 and a three-gamer right after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26-30) but hasn’t been able to win more than two in a row since while also compiling a three-game losing streak and a pair of two-gamers.
San Jose is a league-worst 4-11-6 at home and has dropped four of its last five (1-3-1) at the SAP Center. The Sharks are 13 points behind Edmonton for the final wild-card spot after a 4-3 loss at Los Angeles on Wednesday.
San Jose was outshot 22-8 in the first period against the Kings but trailed only 1-0 as James Reimer, making his fourth try at his 200th career win, made 21 saves. The Sharks tied it, 2-2, midway through the third period on Timo Meier’s 24th goal of the season, but the Kings answered with goals by Gabe Vilardi and Drew Doughty just 53 seconds apart a few minutes later and then held on for the win.
“I thought we played real decent, good enough to win,” Reimer, who stopped 33 of 37 shots, said. “Once again, it comes down to a one-goal game. It’s just a matter of trying to get over that hump.”
San Jose coach David Quinn pointed to his team’s poor start as one of the keys for the loss. The Kings had the final 13 shots on goal in the first period.
“Well, for five minutes we played honest hockey,” Quinn said. “For the next 15, we didn’t. … We just started watching people. The safest place in the building in the first period was in front of our net.”
Quinn lauded his team’s performance in the final period after falling behind by two goals.
“This is not easy, the season we’ve gone through,” Quinn said. “There’s a lot of frustration because we feel like we’ve played better, but our record is what it is. I’m just proud of the way we competed and didn’t give up. Even at 4-2, we kept playing and had chances to tie.”
–Field Level Media