EDMONTON â€” The veteran San Jose Sharks gave the upstart Edmonton Oilers a lesson in playoff intensity, spotting them two early goals then roaring back to win in overtime in NHL playoff action Wednesday.
Sharks forward Melker Karlsson fired a snap shot from the top of the right face-off circle past Oiler goalie Cam Talbot just over three minutes into the first overtime to seal a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarter-final series.
“We got the chance and I snuck it in,” said Karlsson. “I got a little space and (Joe Pavelski) saw me in the middle. It was a half-breakaway. It was nice.”
The game saw Edmonton jump out to a 2-0 first-period lead only to get outshot 34-9 the rest of the way.
Milan Lucic and Oscar Klefbom scored for the Oilers before 18,347 fans at sold-out Rogers Place.
Joel Ward and Paul Martin replied for San Jose in regulation time.
Edmonton centre Connor McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer in the regular season, had one assist in his playoff debut to extend his points streak to 15 games. McDavid was for the most part held in check by the Sharks.
“We did a good job starting the game but we’ve got to finish,” said McDavid. “They had the puck all night. They played in our zone. When you don’t have the puck you’re not going to get many shots on goal.”
The Oilers took six penalties compared with three for the Sharks. Edmonton winger Jordan Eberle said that took a toll.
“We’ve got to stay out of the (penalty) box. You lose momentum by doing that,” said Eberle. “The guys who kill (the penalty) are wasting a lot of energy and the guys who aren’t are sitting on the bench.
“We had a tough time generating some momentum after that.”
It was the first playoff game in the Oilers’ new downtown arena and the team’s first NHL post-season game in almost 11 years.
The Sharks played without star centre Joe Thornton, who is day-to-day with a left knee injury. However, San Jose centre Logan Couture returned to the lineup, albeit in a full-face cage. He missed seven games after having his mouth and teeth smashed by a deflected puck.
The Sharks and Edmonton were teams headed in opposite directions heading into the playoffs. The Oilers were red hot, winning 12 of their last 14, while San Jose had dropped nine of 13.
The Sharks, however, are the defending Western Conference champions with 1,169 games of playoff experience on their roster compared with 342 for Edmonton.
“We were confident we could go out and turn things around (after the first period),” said Couture. “We forechecked them hard and they got caught on some long shifts.
“From the second period on, we had control of that game. It was just a matter of time before the puck was going to go in.”
Klefbom scored the Oilers’ first playoff goal since 2006 when he took a cross-ice pass in the high slot from Eberle and fired the puck low between the pads of Sharks goalie Martin Jones at 6:44.
Lucic made it 2-0 with less than three minutes to go in the period on the power play.
McDavid passed the puck to Mark Letestu, who rifled the puck off Jones’s goal pad right to Lucic. Lucic then shot again through Jones’s pads to light the lamp.
San Jose cut the lead in half 1:43 into the second period on the power play. Winger Joonas Donskoi came around behind the net and fed the puck in front on the backhand to Ward, who then redirected the puck past Talbot.
San Jose tied the game just over five minutes into the third period when Martin jumped on a rebound off a Tomas Hertl wraparound shot and put the puck in.
The Sharks had 44 shots on net. Edmonton had 19.
San Jose’s power play, ranked an anaemic 25th in the regular season at 16.7 per cent, was otherwise ineffective. The Sharks were 1 for 6 with the man advantage while Edmonton was 1 for 3.
Talbot said the Oilers’ resiliency will now be tested.
“We’ve got to let this one go,” said Talbot. “That’s the thing that we’re going to have to work on with this group is just letting that go. We did a good job during the regular season. We’re going to have to continue that in the playoffs.”
Game 2 goes Friday in Edmonton.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press