Yesterday’s Game of the Day between the Edmonton Oilers and the San Jose Sharks was the first since December 26 in the series to require a shootout, which the Sharks executed to perfection to win 2-1.
San Jose scored the opening goal of the game after 11:29 of play, courtesy of Marc-Edouard Vlasic after assists from Melker Karlsson and Joe Thornton, his 24th helper of the season. The Sharks‘ 1-0 lead held into the intermission.
Edmonton leveled the score at the 8:02 mark of the second when Second Star of the Game Nail Yakupov scored on assists from Lauri Korpikoski (his sixth assist of the season) and Justin Schultz.
It was the final goal in regulation, and there wasn’t one scored in the five minutes of three-on-three play, so The Tank hosted its first shootout of the season.
Joe Pavelski was the first to take his shootout goal, and his attempt was pure, giving the Sharks a 1-0 shootout lead. First Star Martin Jones made the save on Jordan Eberle’s attempt, which was quickly followed by Joonas Donskoi’s shot that also trickled into the net. Jones secured the bonus point with a save on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, cemented San Jose‘s lead over Vancouver to two points, and ruined the homecoming of ex-head coach Todd McLellan.
Jones earns the win after saving 24 of 25 (96%) to improve his record to 19-13-2, while Cam Talbot’s record falls to 7-13-3 after saving 36 of 37 (97.3%).
The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 40-19-8, favoring the home squad by 29 points.
A busy Thursday schedule yields a lighter Friday schedule than normal in preparation of an exciting weekend of NHL action. A total of six games will be played this evening, with half getting started at 7 p.m. eastern (Boston at Buffalo [BELL TV], Chicago at Toronto [NHLN] and Vancouver at Carolina). Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay (TVAS) drop the puck 30 minutes later, followed at 8 p.m. eastern by Winnipeg at Minnesota. This evening’s nightcap gets its start at 10 p.m. eastern when Dallas visits Anaheim (SN).
A third of tonight’s games are between divisional rivals (Boston at Buffalo and Winnipeg at Minnesota), while none involve both squads currently qualifying for the playoffs.
The game that has attracted my attention the most is actually the Vancouver at Carolina matchup, as both teams are currently very close to qualifying for the playoffs, but are still on the outside looking in.
Tonight’s game will be Vancouver‘s fourth appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 1-2-0 record, while the Canes lost the only other game they’ve played in the series. Both team’s most recent appearance in the series was on January 6 when Carolina visited Rogers Arena and fell 3-2 to the Canucks.
The 17-17-10 Vancouver Canucks currently sit in fourth place in the Pacific Division and 10th in the Western Conference, meaning that they are sitting on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, although they trail the Sharks by only two points. Vancouver plays a balanced, yet lackluster game, slightly favoring their defense.
Even with Chris Tanev’s 99 blocks, the Canucks have allowed a whopping 1315 shots to reach 10-11-6 Ryan Miller and co., who’ve collectively saved 91.3% for 120 goals against, ninth-most in the league. The power play has also been below average, killing 79.58% of attempts for 29 goals against.
Vancouver‘s offense has also left much to be desired for residents of British Columbia, as they’ve managed only 1249 shots (led by Daniel Sedin’s 149), of which only 8.2% have found the back of the net for 105 goals (led by Sedin’s 19), eighth-fewest in the league. The power play has been just as incompetent, scoring only only 17.36% of attempts for 25 goals (led by Sedin’s six).
Vancouver‘s most recent game was a 4-1 loss in Washington last night.
The 20-18-7 Carolina Hurricanes currently sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference, presently missing the playoffs only due to losing a tiebreaker of games played to Boston. Similar to Vancouver, they play a balanced, but rather underwhelming game slightly favoring their defense.
Thanks in part to Ron Hainsey’s 71 blocks, only 1146 shots have made their way to 14-11-4 Cam Ward and co., who’ve collectively saved 90.1% for 120 goals against, ninth-most in the league. The Canes‘ penalty kill has been only slightly below league average, killing 80.19% attempts for 21 goals against.
Led by Justin Faulk’s 130 shots, the Hurricanes have fired the puck 1298 times, of which 8.1% have found the back of the net for 105 goals (led by Jeff Skinner’s 16 tallies), eighth-fewest in the league. The power play has certainly let the Canes down, as they’ve scored on only 17.16% attempts for 23 goals (led by Faulk’s 12).
Carolina is currently riding a four-game win streak, with their most recent game being a 4-1 victory in St. Louis last night. A win tonight in combination with wins by Buffalo and/or Pittsburgh gets the Canes in the group of eight Eastern Conference teams competing for the Cup.
Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Carolina‘s Faulk (32 points, including 12 power play goals, on 130 shots and 84 hits [all lead the team]) and Vancouver‘s Henrik Sedin (28 assists [tied for fifth-most in the league]).
As made evident by the last time these two met, these squads are an even match for each other, and goals are always at a premium with these offenses. That being said, I am forced to lean with the Canes solely because they are playing in PNC Arena.