SAN JOSE, Calif. – By the time Dwayne Roloson stopped a shot with his head and kept playing even when his mask came off, the San Jose Sharks had a good idea their nine-game winning streak wouldn’t make it through the night.
The NHL’s biggest winners this season are at a loss when they face Roloson, the 39-year-old Edmonton goalie who has turned into the Sharks’ most improbable nemesis.
Roloson made 41 saves in his latest jaw-dropping, streak-stopping effort against San Jose, and Kyle Brodziak’s goal 2:40 into overtime sent the Oilers to a 3-2 victory Saturday night.
Edmonton survived a 43-17 shot disadvantage and a perilous third period thanks to Roloson. The well-worn journeyman inexplicably becomes Grant Fuhr whenever he faces the high-scoring Sharks, from his playoff series victory in 2006 to another win last March that stopped an 11-game Sharks streak.
“He was so composed all night,” said Brodziak, whose winning power-play goal kicked off the toe of defenceman Christian Ehrhoff’s skate. “Even when they were threatening, he just hung in there. That was a huge lift for us. He comes to work every day with enthusiasm, he works hard, and he still enjoys the game.”
San Jose’s NHL-best record dropped to 22-3-2 despite a 43-17 shot advantage in yet another tough loss to the Oilers, who have won 10 of 14 meetings with the Sharks. Edmonton also was the last team to beat the Sharks in regulation at the Tank back on Feb. 14, but Mathieu Garon was in net.
“I guess the guys were saying he’s had some strong games in this building before,” said Boyle, who joined San Jose in an off-season trade. “Just like Nabby the other night, if you keep your team in the game long enough, you have a chance.”
Evgeni Nabokov, who made 14 saves in his first loss since Oct. 24, lavished praise on Roloson. The Edmonton goalie led the eighth-seeded Oilers to that memorable playoff upset in 2006. Roloson then made 48 saves in Edmonton’s 2-1 shootout win at the Shark Tank last March 16, which snapped San Jose’s franchise-record winning streak.
Roloson coolly fended off San Jose’s 16-1 shot advantage in the first period Saturday before making several of his best stops late. He jumped up to make a blind save after teammate Rob Schremp ran into him and knocked away his stick in the third period, and he later kept playing even when Joe Thornton’s shot rattled his skull.
Roloson is just about the only player in either locker-room who doesn’t think he’s something special against San Jose.
“I don’t change my game for them,” Roloson said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. I just go out and play. Fortunately for me, we’ve been lucky as a team in here. It’s not me personally. It’s a team effort.”
Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner also scored for the Oilers, the first club to beat San Jose since Nashville earned a 4-3 overtime victory on Nov. 11. Sharks captain Patrick Marleau’s hooking penalty gave the Oilers a 4-on-3 edge in overtime, and Brodziak capitalized.
Dan Boyle and Jeremy Roenick scored for the Sharks, who still haven’t lost at the Tank in regulation (14-0-2). San Jose has earned a point in a club-record 25 straight home games since Feb. 14.
And only exceptional goaltending has beaten the Sharks at home this season. Nashville got 54 saves from Dan Ellis in the only previous victory for a visitor.
“Our two losses here at home have been almost identical, where we have enough chances to win and end up losing in overtime,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “You’d like to see us finish more around the net, but their goalie had something to do with that.”
Playing without injured veterans Jonathan Cheechoo and Brad Lukowich, San Jose had eight shots before Edmonton got its first puck on net, but Hemsky scored his ninth goal on that shot from the slot, extending his scoring streak to eight games.
The Sharks finally were rewarded when Boyle slipped a 35-foot backhand from the corner under Roloson’s left pad and off the back of his other leg with 5.5 seconds left in the period. Roenick put the Sharks ahead several minutes later with his second goal in two games after he scored just one in the Sharks’ first 25 outings.
But Penner scored on a power play late in the second period, and Edmonton went into the third tied 2-2 despite a 31-10 shot deficit.
“(Roloson) got them the two points, that’s no question,” Nabokov said. “We peppered him with shots, had screened shots and everything, but he did well.”
Notes: Roenick’s goal was the 512th of his career, tying him with Gilbert Perreault for 35th place in NHL history. … Cheechoo missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury, and Lukowich missed just his second game of the season after injuring his groin against Columbus. … Oilers C Sam Gagner missed his second straight game after incurring a concussion Wednesday night against Dallas.