Watching their first home playoff contest since Game 6 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, a rabid SAP Center crowd begged for a Sharks comeback as they trailed the visiting Edmonton Oilers with just over nine minutes remaining in the third period.
The Sharks fan base was left wanting, as San Jose was shut out for the second consecutive game, this time by a final score of 1-0 in Game 3 of the first round in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Consistent to what Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan had predicted in a press conference earlier in the day — and with Joe Thornton back on the ice for Sharks for the first time since injuring his knee April 2 — the Sharks were able to dictate the pace of the game early, taking more twice as many shots on goal as the Oilers in a frenetic first period.
Those opportunities were squandered, however, as Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot turned away all 13 first period shots.
Regarding the lack of execution around the goal, Sharks defenseman David Schlemko said:
“We were getting pucks around the net. We just gotta find a way to get in there and bury a few.”
To make matters worse, the Sharks were unable to take advantage of the first of two power play opportunities after Edmonton defenseman, Oscar Klefbom was penalized for roughing with just under three minutes to play in the first period.
Instead, only halfway through the Klefbom’s two minute penalty, Sharks right winger Joel Ward picked up a tripping penalty of his own.
After surviving the barrage of energy and activity from San Jose, Edmonton was able to dictate the pace for the rest of the game.
Starting in the second period, the Oilers were able to double their total of shots on goal in the first. Edmonton would enter the third period leading 18-17 in shot attempts.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer contributed the swing of momentum to classic playoff intensity:
“It’s playoff hockey. You have two evenly matched teams. We had the momentum early and they grabbed it in the second, the third was even. That’s what this looks like this time of year.”
The Oilers finally seized control of game at the 9:15 in the third period when Zack Kassian intercepted a sloppy clearing pass by Sharks defenseman David Schlemko. Kassian shoveled a backhand shot through Martin Jones‘ five-hole to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
“I was just going back to get the puck and trying to bypass a couple of guys and I don’t know if it hit his skate or leg and it’s a tough bounce and, you know, it’s a game of mistakes and that one ends up in the net.”
After relinquishing control of the best-of-seven series, the Sharks now trail Edmonton 2-1. Considering that another home loss would give the Oilers a commanding 3-1 advantage, it’s safe to say the entire Sharks season rests on Game 4 looms as a contest with the entire Sharks season on the line.
Puck drop for Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at SAP Center in San Jose.