After a slow start to the year, the Sharks have battled their way back into contention in the Pacific Division race after winning each of their last six contests. San Jose comes in with 21 points through 21 games (10-10-1) while the Oilers lead the Pacific with 29 points in 22 contests (13-6-3). Can the Oilers come out on top against the Sharks at the SAP Center on Tuesday night?
Draisaitl, McDavid, lead the NHL in pointsThe Oilers were unable to keep their momentum alive on Saturday, falling to the Dallas Stars 5-4 in overtime. Jujhar Khaira had two goals and Connor McDavid notched three assists for the Oilers, who squandered a 4-2 third-period lead and allowed three unanswered goals to end up with only a single point on the night. Mikko Koskinen allowed five goals in 36 shots for Edmonton, which will begin a five-game road trip on Tuesday against the Sharks.
While he hasn’t quite garnered the same attention as McDavid, Leon Draisaitl remains the early-season front-runner in the NHL MVP race. Draisaitl leads the team in points (43), goals (16), and assists (27) while ranking either first or second in the NHL in all three categories. Draisaitl had a goal and an assist against the Stars and now has 14 points over his last five games. McDavid isn’t far behind with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) through 22 games and the duo actually ranks No. 1 and No. 2 in the NHL, respectively, in points.
Special teams have played a major part in the Oilers’ early-season rise. Edmonton ranks first in the NHL on the power play, converting 31.8 percent of their opportunities with the man advantage through 22 games. The Oilers also rank third in the league on the penalty kill, fending off 87.7 percent of their total penalties for the season.
Koskinen is scheduled to be back between the pipes for Edmonton on Tuesday night. He comes in with a 7-1-2 overall record to go along with a 2.42 GAA and .921 save percentage through his first 11 games (10 starts). The 31-year-old will try to rebound from his worst start of the season after surrendering a season-high five goals versus the Stars on Saturday. The loss marked the first time this season Koskinen has given up more than three goals in a game. Koskinen won his only start against the Sharks last season despite sporting a 3.87 GAA and .864 save percentage.
Sharks showing signs of life following slow startKevin LaBanc scored his sixth goal of the season and added the game-winner in the shootout to help San Jose push its current winning streak to six games with a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Erik Karlsson also scored for the Sharks while Martin Jones had 25 saves, including three in the shootout, to help the Sharks keep their current streak alive.
Defenseman Radim Simek is starting to gain some attention since joining the Sharks as an undrafted free agent in 2017-18. While Simek’s 12 career NHL points in 47 games might not draw too many headlines, people have started to make note of the Sharks’ record without him on the ice. With Simek in the lineup, San Jose is 35-9-3 since the start of the 2018-19 season, compared to just 21-28-7 without him.
Jones is expected to patrol the crease for the Sharks once again on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old is 8-7-1 with a 3.23 GAA and .889 save percentage in 17 games (16 starts). Jones has won six of his seven starts since the start of November but his save percentage (.886) is actually down from his 3-7-1 October (.890). He has already started once against Edmonton this season, allowing three goals on 24 shots in a 5-3 Sharks’ win on Nov. 12.
- Oilers are 6-1 in their last 7 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Oilers are 4-1 in their last 5 games as an underdog.
- Sharks are 5-12 in their last 17 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Sharks are 2-9 in their last 11 games as an underdog.