Preview: Sharks at Oilers
The San Jose Sharks know they will be facing the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the playoffs but they need to get back on track with two games remaining in the regular season. Although they have already clinched second place in the Pacific Division, the Sharks enter Thursday's matchup at the Edmonton Oilers with one win in 10 games.
San Jose had won six in a row before its current swoon, falling to 1-8-1 in its last 10 after Tuesday's 4-2 loss at Vancouver. "We got two kinds of practice shots at this again and then the real season starts, so hopefully we can put it together in Edmonton and then put it together against Colorado and then get ready for Vegas," forward Joe Thornton said. It's another lost season for captain Connor McDavid and the Oilers, who saw their losing streak reach four games in Tuesday's 6-2 drubbing at Colorado. "Frankly there are a lot of people burned out from chasing," Edmonton coach Ken Hitchcock said. "So every mistake is magnified and it just seems like when you have to climb, climb, climb, it looks like we are tired doing the climbing."
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCS California-Plus (San Jose), Sportsnet West (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE SHARKS (45-26-9): Thornton reached a milestone in the loss at Vancouver, setting up both goals to move into a tie with Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman for eighth place on the NHL all-time list with 1,063 assists. Captain Joe Pavelski scored his team-leading 38th goal Tuesday and his 20th away from home, marking the fourth time since 2013-14 that he has scored at least 20 on the road -- second only to Alex Ovechkin during that span. Forwards Melker Karlsson and Lukas Radil, who have each missed the last three games, are expected to play Thursday.
ABOUT THE OILERS (34-37-9): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins set up a pair of first-period tallies Tuesday and has established career highs across the board in goals (28), assists (39) and points (67), but he is taking little solace in the numbers. "For me, personally, (it) doesn't really matter that much," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It's about making the playoffs. It's my eighth year, and I've only been in (the playoffs) once." McDavid also has set career highs with 41 goals and 115 points, including amassing 28 points in 16 games since March 2.
1. After losing the first game of the season series in overtime, San Jose has won the past three meetings while outscoring Edmonton 19-8.
2. Oilers F Leon Draisaitl has five of his career-best 102 points in four meetings versus San Jose.
3. Thornton is tied with Nicklas Lidstrom for 12th all-time in with 1,564 games played.
PREDICTION: Sharks 5, Oilers 4