Hapless Oilers shoot for a rare win in San Jose

(SportsNetwork.com) – Craig MacTavish and Todd Nelson got a closer look on
Tuesday just how rough of a season it has been for the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers look to rebound from yet another heart-breaking loss and avoid a
sixth setback in a row on Thursday night as they visit the San Jose Sharks.

Edmonton hit the ice on Tuesday to take on the hosting Arizona Coyotes just
one day after the club fired Dallas Eakins as its head coach. MacTavish, the
general manager, joined Nelson on the bench and will help coach for the near
future until Nelson is comfortable enough to take the role of interim coach on
his own.

He may need some additional time after watching the Oilers lose a 2-1 overtime
decision to the Coyotes when Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored
with just 0.3 seconds left in the extra frame.

With time winding down, Martin Erat skated the puck into the Edmonton zone and
dished it to his right for Sam Gagner, who then fired the puck over to the
left wing where a skating Ekman-Larsson blasted a shot into the right corner
of the net just before the final buzzer.

“Heartbreaker. It was five seconds, the play was on the wall near our bench
then all of a sudden they have a rush and Larsson makes a great shot,” said
Nelson.

“It was a dead play on the wall. Then the puck squirted loose and they were
able to get one last rush off it. We had a bit of duplication on the coverage
and Larsson was open.”

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had the only goal of the game for the Oilers, who have
dropped 16 of their past 17 (1-11-5).

“When you give a guy like Ekman-Larsson a shot like that, he’s not going to
miss too often,” said Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens, who finished with a
season-high 42 saves.

Edmonton may have forward Boyd Gordon back in the lineup tonight. He has
missed the last five games with a sore back, but has been practicing the past
few days.

The Oilers will need all the help they can get given that the Sharks have won
seven of their past eight, including the first three of a five-game homestand.
They won their sixth straight as the hosting club overall with Saturday’s 2-0
win over the Nashville Predators.

Antti Niemi made 29 saves for his second shutout of the season and 29th of his
career. He made 18 of those stops in the third period.

Tomas Hertl’s goal 5:01 into the game stood up as the winner and Joe Thornton
added an empty-netter — his 350th career goal.

“The whole first period we had a game plan and we all bought into it,” said
Sharks coach Todd McLellan. “It wasn’t just 15 guys; it was all 20 who
executed it. The whole night we stuck to it. It was a good team win.”

The Sharks and Oilers have split their first two meetings this season, a home-
and-home set on Dec. 7 and 9 in which each club won a game in its own
building.

San Jose has won nine of the past 11 overall as well as four in a row and nine
of the last 11 at home in this series.

Niemi is 9-1-1 lifetime versus the Oilers with a 2.40 goals against average
and .906 save percentage, while Scrivens is 2-3-1 against the Sharks with a
2.98 GAA and .915 save percentage.