Sharks-Oilers Preview

March 8, 2016

Todd McLellan lost his job with the San Jose Sharks after they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons, a run during which it never made an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final despite having plenty of talent.

There's less pressure for postseason success in Edmonton, where McLellan is overseeing what seems like a continuous rebuild for an Oilers club that hasn't reach the playoffs since playing for the Cup in 2006.

He believes the future is bright for the Oilers, though, and they'll look to win for the fifth time in six tries against his former team that can do the same Tuesday night.

McLellan won 311 regular-season games over seven seasons with the Sharks (36-23-6) but could never get them past the Western Conference finals. The sides mutually agreed to part ways after a disappointing 89-point season in 2014-15 before the Oilers (26-35-7) hired McLellan shortly after.


San Jose has rebounded under new coach Pete DeBoer and is all but guaranteed to secure one of the Pacific Division's automatic playoff berths, but Edmonton is sitting in its familiar spot at the bottom of the West.

The Oilers acquired Patrick Maroon, Adam Pardy and Adam Cracknell at the trade deadline to add some size and have played well toward the end of another bleak season. Maroon and Lauri Korpikoski scored in Sunday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, giving Edmonton four wins in five games following a seven-game skid.

"We're going to have some ups and downs," McLellan said. "If we can keep this attitude that we have right now and that relentlessness and tenacity in our game, we have a chance to evolve over the last month of the season and carry that into the summer."

McLellan has faced his former team twice, winning 4-3 on Taylor Hall's overtime goal Dec. 9 and falling 3-2 on Jan. 14 after Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored in the shootout.

Pavelski's goal 19 seconds into overtime Monday gave the Sharks a 2-1 win over Calgary as they improved to 7-1-1 on the road since Feb. 9. Brent Burns scored his 24th goal, becoming the first defenseman to reach that mark since Mike Green scored 31 in 2008-09.

San Jose sits in third place in the Pacific - five points behind Anaheim and four back of Los Angeles - as it tries for its first division title since McLellan guided it to its fourth straight in 2010-11.

"Right now you've got to keep pace with everybody," Pavelski said. "Everybody's playing good. We understand our game's got to improve over the last week, week and a half. It can get better."

Martin Jones made a career-high 47 saves against the Flames, likely meaning that James Reimer will get his second start for the Sharks since being acquired at the trade deadline. Reimer, who lost 4-2 to Vancouver on Saturday, is 4-0-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average in four starts and one relief appearance against the Oilers.

Cam Talbot was named the NHL's first star last week and has won his last four starts while stopping 141 of 144 shots. He made 36 saves in his only career start against the Sharks in the last meeting.

''When a goalie gets on a roll, sometimes the puck seems a little bigger,'' Talbot said. ''Luckily for me, it's going in the right direction right now and I'll try to keep it going as long as I can.''

Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson was helped off the ice Sunday and is expected to be out long-term, but Oscar Klefbom could play for the first time since Dec. 11.