The San Jose Sharks are looking way up the standings to Edmonton as they prepare to host the Oilers on Tuesday.
The Sharks' dismal start to the season has them 11 points behind Edmonton, the leader of the Pacific division.
"We all knew we weren't playing up to our standards and kind of forgot how the game is played a little bit for a while," defenseman Erik Karlsson said of his team's position. "It feels like we're finally starting to look like the team we're supposed to be. Still a long way to get there where we want to get, but this is a good start."
The Sharks, who will conclude a six-game homestand, are coming off a 2-1 shootout win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday. San Jose has won three consecutive games.
"We've put together some good spurts of hockey here over the last week. I like some of the things we've been doing, but we haven't been doing them enough and we haven't done it against a team like that this year," coach Pete DeBoer said. "There were a lot of good signs. Hopefully we can turn the corner here."
But the veteran-laden Sharks, who reached the Western Conference finals last spring, know all too well they have a long way to go to get back to being a Stanley Cup contender.
"Big win, but we're still where we're at. We're still 7-10-1 now," center Logan Couture told the San Jose Mercury News. "Still got to claw our way back to .500 and go from there."
The Oilers arrive in Northern California having won two straight games, the latest a 6-2 thumping of the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday with their mothers on-hand for the current road swing, making it a perfect time for rookie right wing Patrick Russell to record his first NHL point, an assist, in his 22nd game.
"My mom was here to witness it so that was pretty special," Russell told NHL.com. "That was nice to get the first one out of the way finally."
Helping the Oilers' cause these days, though, is that their big-name players are rolling.
Connor McDavid recorded a hat trick against Anaheim to reach the 400-point mark in his career in his 306th game, making him the 13th fastest in NHL history to record 400 points. Meanwhile, Leon Draisaitl had a four-assist outing and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice, giving him four points in the last two games.
"These guys came with a lot of pace early in the game and we really matched that and played with our own pace," Nugent-Hopkins told Postmedia. "It was really good to see because sometimes going on the road you can back off a little bit. But we didn't see that out of our group. Definitely nice to roll into this game after a good game against New Jersey, too."
--Field Level Media
Sharks look for more spark vs. Oilers