HASH(0xb49008)

Edmonton Oilers head to San Jose with chance to knock Sharks out of NHL playoffs

Oilers poised to knock Sharks from playoffs

EDMONTON — The young Edmonton Oilers, already on a steep learning curve in the NHL post-season, now face their biggest challenge yet — knocking the defending Western Conference champions out of the playoffs.

“It’s our first chance as a group to experience this,” Oilers centre Mark Letestu told reporters Friday before the team boarded a flight to San Jose for a Saturday night matchup against the Sharks.

“We’re going to have to play our best game of the series, there’s no doubt.”

The Oilers pushed the Sharks to the brink of elimination Thursday in the Western Conference quarter-final, rallying from a two-goal deficit to beat San Jose 4-3 and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

It’s new territory for the Oilers, who average about 25 years of age. Many of them, including cornerstone players like Connor McDavid, Oscar Klefbom and Leon Draisaitl, have never been to the post-season in the NHL.

The Oilers as a team are returning to the playoffs after missing the tournament for 10 consecutive seasons, tying the Florida Panthers’ dubious record of futility.

Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, who coached the Sharks up until two seasons ago, agreed that the team in teal, with veterans like Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, have a deep well of experience to draw from.

“The playoff pundits will tell you the toughest (game) to win is that final one. The team that were playing now have a very high belief system regardless of where they are in the series,” said McLellan.

“The important thing for us is to be ready to play.

“I think — at least I believe — we’ve learned our lesson following Game 4. We know they’re going to have a push.”

In Game 4, the Oilers got frustrated, taking cheap shots and cheap penalties, as the Sharks rolled to a 7-0 blowout win. McLellan said the players didn’t stay with the game plan.

“Individual players were playing outside of their character traits if you will,” said McLellan.

“(But) last night, we all played within our skin and I think that was real important. That was a message that was sent the day before and players responded.”

The Oilers have already learned a number of lessons in the series.

They came in favoured against the Sharks, who were reeling from injuries and losses as the regular season wound down.

In Game 1, the Oilers went up 2-0 early, lost focus and lost the game 3-2 in overtime. In Game 2, they bounced back, winning 2-0. They gutted out a 1-0 win in San Jose in Game 3, then got soft and were embarrassed in Game 4.

Things looked bleak in Game 5 back in Edmonton on Thursday, when the Sharks withstood an early Oilers onslaught to grab a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.

But Draisiatl said they didn’t abandon the game plan.

“We stuck with it. We didn’t get too nervous. We didn’t get too angry or whatever you want to say,” said Draisaitl.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer, in a conference call Friday, said they will regroup and look to find a way to not lose the close games they won en route to last year’s Cup final.

“It’s a razor-thin edge, and we’ve been on the wrong side of it a couple of these games,” said DeBoer.

Asked to sum up Game 6, DeBoer replied: “Desperation.

“If we lose we’re done, so I think that always brings out your best game, especially with our group.

“We’ve been a team that’s been able to bounce back after tough losses all year and get wins, so I’m confident we’ll be ready to play.”

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Known Kelowna Hells Angels associate to face trial in October

Colin Michael Bayley is set to stand trial next month for an alleged aggravated assault

RCMP seeking witnesses to fatal Peachland motorcycle crash on Highway 97

One person died following a motorcycle crash south of Peachland on Sunday afternoon

Penticton officer hit by stolen Kelowna car that was later torched

RCMP are asking for the public’s help in a crime spree that spans from Kelowna to Osoyoos

Bomb threat at Kelowna Winners confirmed false

RCMP say a criminal investigation into the matter is still ongoing

Kelowna General Hospital receives grant for new neo-natal ventilator

The TB Vets Charitable Foundation donated $50,000 for the ventilator

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Okanagan community lifts up Indigenous food truck dream

BannockSlap Burgers and Indian Tacos opened for business on Labour Day weekend

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

UBC Okanagan creativity on display at art gallery

Experimental sculptural installation and prints by students

Mystery solved on who put up blockade on Okanagan road

Land owner says trespassing with quads and motorcycles threatens wildlife and old growth trees

Editorial: Racism spans our shared history of pandemics

Guideline for naming of viruses designed to not offend cultural groups

Most Read