Series (Game 4 of 4)

San Jose leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 23rd
Game 2: Saturday, November 27th
Game 3: Tuesday, December 21st
Game 4: Thursday, January 13th

Oilers 5

(14-21-7, 35 pts)

Sharks 2

(21-19-5, 47 pts)

10:30 PM ET, January 13, 2011

SAP Center, San Jose, California

1 2 3 T
EDM 1 2 25
SJ 0 0 22

A. Hemsky (Oilers - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 4

D. Dubnyk (Oilers - G): Saves: 41, Save Pct.: .953

T. Hall (Oilers - LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

Oilers-Sharks Preview


The San Jose Sharks' poor play on both ends of the ice has the club on the verge of its first six-game home losing streak in nearly 14 years.

A matchup with the Edmonton Oilers could help it break out of that funk.

The Sharks try to end that home skid and avoid a sixth straight overall defeat Thursday night when they go for their first season sweep of the Oilers.

While San Jose (21-18-5) has scored just six times during its five-game overall skid, the three-time defending Pacific Division champs are also trying to patch up holes on their defense. The Sharks surrendered four goals in the final 16:33 of Tuesday's 4-2 home loss to Toronto.

"We have been whining about our offense lately, but tonight it was our defense commitment that let us down," said coach Todd McLellan, whose team's last six-game slide was March 13-21.

The Sharks, tied with Los Angeles for last place in the division, will look for a better effort as they go for their fourth straight win over the Oilers (13-21-7).

After posting a 6-1 victory in Edmonton on Oct. 23 and a 4-3 win over the host Oilers on Nov. 27, San Jose won 2-1 on Dec. 21 to register its fourth straight home win in this matchup.

Rookie Logan Couture, who scored in the last meeting and leads the Sharks with 19 goals, is questionable for the teams' final matchup this season after suffering a knee injury Tuesday.

"He's arguably been our best player all year," All-Star defenseman Dan Boyle said. "That was a big loss."

While another loss at HP Pavilion would send the Sharks to their first six-game home losing streak since March 9-26, 1997, McLellan's club will face an Edmonton team that has dropped five in a row on the road (0-4-1).

The Oilers, though, continue their five-game trip with plenty of optimism following Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Pacific-leading Dallas. Jean-Francois Jacques and Ryan Jones scored back-to-back goals to open the third period before Nikolai Khabibulin surrendered the winning goal less than two minutes later.

"That's one thing I love about this team, that we play together and stick up for each other and battle for 60 minutes," Jones said. "At some point, this has to turn around."

Edmonton, which has scored three or fewer goals in each of the last 10 games, could start turning it around if it improves on the power play. The Oilers are 0 for 23 over the last eight games and 1 for 9 versus San Jose this season.

They could also benefit from better goaltending. Khabibulin, who has a 3.49 goals-against average while losing his last seven starts, is 0-2-0 with a 4.06 GAA in two starts versus San Jose this season.

Coach Tom Renney could give Devan Dubnyk a rare start Thursday. The second-year netminder made 21 saves in the Nov. 27 loss.

Whoever starts in goal will try to end Joe Thornton's seven-game point streak in this series. The Sharks captain, who has a goal and 13 assists during that run, notched two assists Tuesday to end a season-high five-game pointless streak.

Dany Heatley, tied with Thornton with a team-best 37 points, has none in a season-high four straight games. He has three goals and two assists against Edmonton this season.

Antero Niittymaki is expected to get the start in net for San Jose. He has a 1.67 GAA while starting each game versus the Oilers in 2010-11.