Sharks skate circles around hapless Oilers
New year. Same old Oilers.
Edmonton's first game of 2010 ended like most of its 2009 contests — with a loss — as the overmatched visitors fell 4-1 to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
It was the ninth defeat in 10 games for the injury-riddled Oilers (16-22-4), who have just one victory since Dec. 11 and own the worst record in the Western Conference.
Edmonton has scored exactly one goal in five of its last six games — the lone exception a 3-1 home win last Wednesday against coach Pat Quinn's old club, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We're not burying that puck right now," Quinn told reporters, adding he was pleased with his club's effort against a vastly superior Sharks team. "I still believe we can get this turned."
Predictably, the game wasn't in doubt very long, as first-period goals by Jamie McGinn and Douglas Murray gave NHL-best San Jose (27-8-7) all the scoring required for its eighth consecutive win.
"The boys played well, and it wasn't too tough," Sharks centre Joe Thornton told Hockey Night in Canada after recording a couple of assists to increase his NHL-leading points total to 57.
Dany Heatley made it 3-0 while the ice was still drying at the start of the second before Robert Nilsson answered for Edmonton.
Patrick Marleau restored the three-goal lead later in the period by potting his 26th of the season — one back of the Rangers' Marian Gaborik for the league lead.
Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves for his 23rd win.
Sharks' top line shines
San Jose's first two goals looked eerily similar. McGinn drew first blood with 6:50 left in the first when he got a piece of a Kent Huskins point shot and the puck leaked through goalie Jeff Deslauriers. Murray made it 2-0 when his shot trickled past the Oilers' netminder.
"I think those two early goals that kind of squeaked through [Deslauriers'] legs kind of hurt him," Thornton said. "From there it was pretty much our game to lose."
Heatley increased the lead to three just 43 seconds into the second, stuffing in a wraparound for his 24th goal of the season. Assists went to linemates Thornton and Marleau, who, along with Heatley, were named to Canada's Olympic team earlier in the week.
The Sharks' other Canadian Olympian, defenceman Dan Boyle, was held off the scoresheet.
Nilsson got Edmonton on the board a few minutes later, cutting into the middle off a rush to unleash a shot that Nabokov couldn't control. Following his own shot, Nilsson converted the rebound.
Marleau's goal later in the period was almost comical. The Sharks' slick puck movement around the perimeter of the Edmonton zone caused three Oilers to run into each other. That opened up a freeway-sized lane for a surprised-looking Marleau to saunter toward the net and rip a shot past Deslauriers.