Thursday, April 20, 2017

{allcanada} 5 Keys: Sharks at Oilers, Game 5



10: 30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCSCA

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2


EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers return home to Rogers Place to host the San Jose Sharks for Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round series, following a 7-0 loss to the Sharks in Game 4 on Tuesday. It was the biggest margin of victory in Sharks playoff history and the biggest margin of defeat in Oilers playoff history.

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:


1. Forgetting Game 4

The Sharks and Oilers each feel the lopsided outcome of Game 4 has little bearing on Game 5. "I think we got better, but [Thursday] is a new game and that's our mindset right now," Sharks center Joe Thornton said. Thornton was asked if momentum carries over from one game to the next in the playoffs "If we win tonight, yeah, if we lose, no," he said. The Oilers put the loss behind them. "It was done early, it was forgotten about really quick," captain Connor McDavid said. "We got a split in San Jose, it doesn't matter how we got to this point it's 2-2, and we have to win two of three."


2. Sharks power play

San Jose went 1-for-14 on the power play in the first three games of the series before breaking out in Game 4, when they were 4-for-8. "We seemed to win a few more battles," captain Joe Pavelski said. "At times [previously] they were getting it and popping it and getting clears. We won a couple of those [battles] and our desperation level on the power play has to stay up, we have to keep attacking, shooting the puck and getting it back and do the simple things that made us successful."


3. Marc-Edouard Vlasic defending Connor McDavid

The Sharks have used the defensive pairing of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun against Connor McDavid and the Oilers top line. McDavid won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer in the regular season with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assist), has two points (one goal, one assist) in the series, but does not have an even-strength point. "When you go up against one of the best offensive, dynamic players in the league and one of the fastest players, you have to be aware whenever he's on the ice," Vlasic said. "You have to be able to skate with him and take away time and space like you would with any good player."


4. Oilers shake up top line

Drake Caggiula will move up to play left wing with McDavid and right wing Leon Draisaitl on the Oilers top line. Caggiula played the first four games on the third line with center Mark Letestu and right wing Zack Kassian. "I've been fortunate to play with Connor a few times this season, I've played a little bit with him on the penalty kill," Caggiula said. "I think we've built a little bit of chemistry there. I'm not going to change my game and make sure I still do my thing. That's what they want me to do, play my game, play with that intensity and speed, and hopefully, it works out for us."


5. Joe Thornton, Logan Couture getting up to speed

Thornton missed the final three games of the regular season with a knee injury sustained at the Vancouver Canucks on April 2 and Couture missed the final seven after he was hit in the face with a shot at the Nashville Predators on March 25. Couture returned for Game 1, but did not have a point until he had two goals in Game 4. Thornton missed the first two games and had an assist in Game 4. "I feel better, I get more comfortable out there every period," Thornton said. "It's a good sign."


Sharks projected lineup

Patrick Marleau -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Jannik Hansen -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker

Melker Karlsson -- Tomas Hertl -- Timo Meier

Marcus Sorensen -- Chris Tierney -- Joel Ward

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- David Schlemko 

Martin Jones 

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo, Micheal Haley, Joonas Donskoi

Injured: None


Oilers projected lineup

Drake Caggiula -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jordan Eberle

Patrick Maroon -- Mark Letestu -- Zack Kassian

Benoit Pouliot -- David Desharnais -- Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Darnell Nurse -- Matt Benning

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Eric Gryba, Matt Hendricks, Jujhar Khaira, Iiro Pakarinen, Griffin Reinhart

Injured: None


Status report

Draisaitl and McDavid will play together on the first line after being on separate lines in Game 3 and Game 4. … Boedker, who was scratched for Game 3 and Game 4 in San Jose, is expected to return in place of Donskoi. … Talbot was pulled after allowing five goals on 24 shots in Game 4 but will start Game 5.


Who's hot

Pavelski had three points (two goals, one assist) in Game 4. ... Vlasic and Burns each have three assists in the series. … Kassian has two game-winning goals in the past three games.


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