Sharks come home to face Oilers for Game 3

The San Jose Sharks opened defense of their Western Conference title by splitting the first two games of their opening-round playoff series with the Edmonton Oilers.

Coach Peter DeBoer's team shouldn't expect things to get easier over the next two games in northern California starting when the Sharks and Oilers meet in Game 3 on Sunday night.

The Sharks posted eight wins in their final 12 at SAP Center to finish tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for third most in the West with 26. In those last dozen games, San Jose held opponents to two goals or less eight times, winning seven.

However, San Jose dropped each of the last two matchups at home with Edmonton this season, including a 4-2 setback on April 6, with three of eight goals allowed coming on the power play.

Some trends don't bode well for the home team.

The Sharks have been outscored 21-11 while going 1-5 in their last six playoff games with the Oilers.

On special teams, San Jose has been unable to capitalize with the man advantage by converting only two of 36 chances. The Sharks yielded two short-handed goals in a 2-0 loss in Game 2 on Friday.

San Jose needed overtime to win Game 1, and DeBoer said neither team will advance to the second round quickly.

"I think they were the better team tonight and we were the better team the other night. This isn't going to be a short series," he said after the loss.

The Sharks should be fortunate that they left Edmonton with a split. So far, San Jose has gotten goals from Melker Karlsson, Paul Martin and Joel Ward, who combined for 25 in the regular season.

That means the team hasn't gotten any goals from Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski, who tied for the lead with 29 goals, or 37-year-old Patrick Marleau, who scored 27.

Burns led all defensemen in scoring with 76 points and Pavelski had 40 of his 68 points in San Jose. Marleau has 65 goals and 51 assists during his lengthy postseason career.

Logan Couture, fourth on the team with 25 goals, also hasn't had a point after leading all players with 20 assists and 30 points in the postseason last year when San Jose reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time.

But in his defense, the Sharks' No. 2 center may still be feeling the effects from an injury that occurred in late March when he took a deflected puck to the face and missed the final seven regular-season games. Couture is wearing a wire cage to protect from any further damage, and the Oilers have playing rough with him.

"The reality is he missed the last three weeks of the season with a serious injury and he's working his way back in," DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury News. "You're seeing a bit of rust, but he's getting better every night."

Couture had 15 goals in 37 games at home in 2016-17.

Making their first playoff appearance away from home since 2006, Edmonton may not experience much of a dropoff. The Oilers had 22 road wins this season, their most since 1985-86.

"The message to start the season was get better as the season goes on," right wingrt Jordan Eberle told the Edmonton Sun. "The same message should be for the playoffs. ... Obviously here you need to win early or you're going to be gone."

Coach Todd McLellan knows what to expect from the franchise he coached for seven seasons before being replaced by DeBoer.

"They're a veteran hockey club," he told the Edmonton Journal. "They went to the Stanley Cup (Finals) last year. They've been through a lot. They're not going to succumb to pressure. Our task gets that much tougher."

Captain and league scoring leader Connor McDavid experienced better production on the road (16 goals, 36 assists) than at home (14 goals, 34 assists). He also seems to take well to the ice in San Jose. Three of the four multipoint games he had versus the Sharks came at SAP Center.

Coming off his first career playoff shutout, Cam Talbot was 2-0-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average in three road starts against the Sharks this season.

Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night in San Jose.
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