Well, that was unexpected.
After being lost at sea, the San Jose Sharks found their offence on Tuesday night and thrashed the Oilers 7-0, tying their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series at two games each.
Unable to find the net on 39 successive shots during two straight losses, the Sharks found it just 15 seconds into the game at the SAP Center. Joe Pavelski bounced a deflected puck past Cam Talbot, opening the floodgates in drought-stricken California and bringing a sellout crowd of towel-waving maniacs to their feet.
Impenetrable in Games 2 and 3, Talbot was yanked after Logan Couture scored for the second time on a power play with 7:08 left in the second period. Laurent Brossoit replaced Talbot – and gave up a second goal to Pavelski, again on a power play, less than four minutes later.
The loss was the worst of the season for Edmonton and couldn’t have come at a worse time. Game 5 is at Rogers Place on Thursday, but instead of trying to close out the best-of-seven series, the Oilers will now be trying to stop the Sharks’ momentum.
The Oilers gave up six goals three times in 82 regular-season games, but were never steamrolled this way. They allowed four power-play goals, and their margin of defeat was the worst in franchise history for a playoff game.
A 15-minute game misconduct to Leon Draisaitl included, the Oilers were assessed 27 minutes in penalties. The Sharks had eight.
“I think in the playoffs there are little lessons that are learned along the way,” Todd McLellan, the Edmonton coach, said. “Tonight was a big lesson. It shows you that a team can take their game to a different level.
“It was completely one-sided. Offensively, defensively … we have a lot of things we need to repair going into Thursday.”
Edmonton played neither well nor smart, and lost its composure more and more as the wheels came off. Draisaitl was ejected with the Oilers trailing 5-0 in the second period after spearing Chris Tierney between the legs. The 21-year-old who scored 77 points could get suspended for the offence. At this point, he is scoreless through four games.
Earlier, Connor McDavid was called for interference for hogtying Pavelski, an infraction that led to a goal by Patrick Marleau. Patrick Maroon cross-checked Pavelski across the back of the neck near the end of the period, which ended with Kris Russell and Pavelski shouting at one another after the feisty little defenceman was whacked in the face with a high stick by Tomas Hertl.
At one point, Darnell Nurse laid out Timo Meier with a stick to his throat, but somehow escaped without a penalty. The Oilers weren’t so lucky when they were called for having too many players on the ice in the third period. They were in the middle of a power play when it occurred.
The talk entering the game focused on the lack of production from the Sharks’ most talented players. Pavelski, Couture, Marleau and Brent Burns combined for only one point in the first three games. On Tuesday night, they had 10. Pavelski and Couture each scored twice, Pavelski added an assist, Marleau had a goal and an assist, and Burns assisted on three others.
“They have lived through these type of games and know where to take it,” McLellan said.
The Sharks had only 16 shots in a Game 3 loss in San Jose on Sunday, but had 14 in the first period in Game 4. The fast goal by Pavelski and Couture’s first of the game staked them to a 2-0 lead by the first intermission, and it just grew from there.
Talbot had given up only three goals in 83 shots entering the game and was pulled after giving up five in 24 attempts.
“We didn’t start the way we wanted to and gave up a goal right away,” Talbot said. “We gave them all the momentum they needed to carry through for the rest of the game.
“As a goalie, I want to make a save here or there to stop their momentum, and I wasn’t able to do that.”
Already, Talbot, said, he had put the game out of his mind.
McLellan said he hoped his players would chew and stew about what happened for a bit on Wednesday and be ready to go again against the Sharks at home on Thursday. The Oilers had beaten them four times in the last five games entering Tuesday night.
“At the end of the day, it was about them being more hungry to get back in the series and us not responding in the right way,” Milan Lucic, the Oilers’ veteran forward, said. “It is about a shift in momentum.
“Eventually, our big guys are going to step up and win us a game. There is no time for panic or doubt to start creeping in. We have to bounce back. You have to have a short memory at this time of year.”
It is the Oilers who now are confronted with questions about their firepower and mettle. McDavid has a goal and an assist but has been effectively blanketed by the Sharks’ defence the last two games. Maroon, who had 27 goals this season, has yet to crack the score sheet. Draisaitl had 29 goals, and he, too, has been shut out.
“It is important that our big guys step up,” Lucic, who has a goal and an assist, said. “I don’t think we have so far.”Report Typo/Error
Follow us on Twitter: