EDMONTON — Thursday provided a solid first look at how the Edmonton Oilers hope to fare down the stretch with a — finally — healthy lineup and a couple of trade deadline day tweaks.
Leon Draisaitl scored a pair of goals as the Oilers snapped a two-game losing skid with a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Kailer Yamamoto, newcomer Derick Brassard and Evander Kane also scored for the Oilers (36-24-5), who improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight outings.
“Every point matters at this time of the year,” said Oilers forward Zach Hyman. “I thought the two guys we brought on (deadline day additions Derick Brassard and Brett Kulak) were great and with (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) coming back from injury, we can start to see our team fully healthy with all of the guys. I thought it was awesome to get the win and to keep building confidence moving forward.”
Mike Smith stopped 28-of-30 shots for Edmonton to earn the victory.
“We’ve done a lot of things here in the last few weeks that have given this team a lot of confidence. We feel like we can play with anybody in this league,” he said. “I feel like the last two or three weeks we’ve really got some traction here. We’ve played some good hockey against some good hockey teams. I feel confident that things are trending in the right direction at the right time of year.”
Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl scored for the Sharks (28-28-8), who saw a two-game winning streak halted.
San Jose's Kaapo Kahkonen made 36 saves in his Sharks debut.
“Not the result we wanted, obviously,” Kahkonen said. “Good is not good enough in this league. I wish I could have made one or two more saves here, keep it a little closer. But overall I felt fine. The guys have been great.”
After a scoreless first, the Sharks broke the deadlock just 68 seconds into the second period as some nice passing allowed Karlsson to deposit his 10th of the season into a wide-open net with Smith sprawled on the ice.
Edmonton knotted it back up five minutes into the second on the power play as Yamamoto drove to the net and sent a backhand shot through Kahkonen’s legs for this 18th of the season and his seventh goal in the last eight games.
Three minutes later, Zack Kassian knocked a defender off the puck along the boards and it popped out to Draisaitl, who sniped his 43rd goal of the season.
Sharks forward Logan Couture was injured when he got hit by a point shot from his own player and did not return.
The teams traded goals seven minutes into the third period as Brassard got his first goal as an Oiler when he sent a puck on net and it ticked off of Karlsson’s skate and in.
However, San Jose responded just 29 seconds later when Hertl was given some space in the slot and he picked the top corner for his 26th.
Edmonton took a two-goal lead with just over six minutes left as Connor McDavid made a perfect feed to Draisaitl on the power play for his second of the game.
The Oilers put the game away on an empty-netter from Kane.
Both teams return to action on Saturday as the Oilers travel to Calgary to face the Flames and the Sharks head home to welcome the Anaheim Ducks.
NOTES: Edmonton had a fully healthy lineup for one of the first times this season as forward Nugent-Hopkins returned after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury. The Oilers also welcomed defenceman Kulak, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens ahead of the trade deadline, and journeyman forward Brassard, formerly of the Philadelphia Flyers. … San Jose’s deadline day addition, Kahkonen, made his first start with San Jose after coming over from the Minnesota Wild. … Out with injuries for the Sharks were Adin Hill (lower body), Mario Ferraro (lower body), Kevin Labanc (upper body) and Matt Nieto (undisclosed).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2022.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press