EDMONTON – Not even a game against the NHL’s bottom feeders could keep the San Jose Sharks from continuing their tumble down the standings.
Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves to earn his second career NHL win in as many games as the last-place Edmonton Oilers skinned the Sharks 5-1 on Sunday.
Ryane Clowe scored the lone goal for the Sharks (43-19-10) who have now gone 0-5-1 in their last six games and were passed on the night by the Phoenix Coyotes for top spot in the Pacific Division to drop them down to fourth overall in the Western Conference.
“The frustration level is growing as the days go on,” said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. “We didn’t really show a lot of emotion in the game until the end of it when it didn’t really matter. I’m tired of hearing in our locker-room and around the team that adversity is good for us and will pay off in the end. It’s not going to unless we dig ourselves out of it.
“There is something missing right now, and we have to figure what it is pretty darn quick.”
San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov is hoping the loss to the 30th place team in the NHL is as bad as it can get.
“It was quite embarrassing to be honest, to lose that way,” he said. “I don’t know if this is rock bottom or not, but we are certainly hoping it is. Hopefully we can get back to climbing the hill after this. I think the confidence level is nowhere to be found right now and we have to find it.”
Robert Nilsson, Dustin Penner, Fernando Pisani, Shawn Horcoff and Aaron Johnson scored the goals for the Oilers (23-42-7), who have started playing the role of spoilers of late, winning their second in a row following a Friday victory over Detroit.
Dubnyk was also between the pipes for that one, earning the rookie goalie his first ever NHL win in 14 appearances this season, before nearly adding his first shutout as well Sunday.
“When it was 5-0, the thought started to creep in,” Dubnyk said.
“Just a little bit. I didn’t get too excited about it. Maybe if I had 20 wins, I might have been a little more desperate to get my first shutout. I was just happy to get another win. Right now I’m just happy to have that winning feeling.”
The Oilers in general are happy to throw a wrench into the plans of any playoff-bound team at the moment.
“This is as close to playoff hockey as we’re going to get this year, playing teams that are battling for playoff spots,” said Sam Gagner. “We want to treat these situations like playoff games for us, and in the future maybe pull from these experiences.”
San Jose had most of the early pressure including a Joe Pavelski shot that hit the crossbar behind Dubnyk, but it was Edmonton that struck first, 11:10 into the opening frame. Nilsson poked the puck away from Joe Thornton at mid ice and went in alone, making a nice move on Nabokov to score his 10th and make it 1-0 Oilers.
Edmonton made it a two-goal game just over a minute later as the rebound from a Ryan Potulny shot caromed off of a Sharks defender to Penner on the doorstep and he was able to slam it home for his 100th career NHL goal.
San Jose had a terrific opportunity to cut into the lead with two minutes left as Dany Heatley had a clear lane to the net but couldn’t slide it under a scrambling Dubnyk to keep it 2-0 after 20 minutes.
The Oilers went up 3-0 midway through the second period as Horcoff spotted Tom Gilbert in the slot, and while Nabokov was able to make a glove save on that shot, Pisani was in tight to lift home the rebound.
The Oilers put the game away with seven minutes left in the third as captain Ethan Moreau made a great pass through the crease to Horcoff at the other post to make it 4-0.
Edmonton made it a five-goal rout with five minutes left as Johnson scored on a shot from the point while the teams were playing four-aside.
The Sharks spoiled Dubnyk’s shutout bid with just three minutes to play as Clowe snuck a puck between the goalie’s skate and the post to make for a 5-1 final.
Both team are idle until Tuesday when the Oilers host Vancouver and the Sharks wrap up their thus far disastrous six-game road trip in Minnesota.
Notes: With just 51 points this season going into the game, the Oilers have been on pace to record their worst ever record. Their worst season as it stands was in 1992-93 when they went 26-50-8 for just 60 points. . . Edmonton’s magic number to finish last in the NHL is a combination of their own losses and Toronto wins now equalling just five. . . Oiler defenceman Theo Peckham could be out for the rest of the year after suffering a separated shoulder late in the third on a hit into the boards by Doug Murray. . . Nabokov has struggled since the Olympics ended, coming into the game having allowed 26 goals in eight games and posting a 4.12 goals-against average in the team’s last four games. . . Shark defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned to the lineup after missing the last 17 games with a lower body injury.