EDMONTON – The focus going into Friday’s game for the Oilers was Dany Heatley’s first appearance in Edmonton since spurning a trade to the club over the summer.
It turns out Patrick Marleau was the player the Oilers should have been watching. Marleau had a hat trick and added an assist for San Jose as the Sharks downed the Oilers 5-4 on Friday. Joe Pavelski had the shootout winner and Ryan Clowe also scored for the Sharks (17-6-4) who have won three of four and continue to top the NHL standings with 38 points.
“There were a lot of turnovers each way and we were able to capitalize on some bounces,” said Marleau, adding his line is clicking right now.
“Dany always seems to draw a couple of guys to him to create some room and (Joe Thornton) always finds a way to get the pucks through. It’s always fun to be on the receiving end of those passes.”
San Jose responded nicely after being embarrassed 7-2 at home to Chicago on Wednesday.
“We didn’t play too well until we were down by two goals and then we found some urgency to our game,” said Thornton. “It was important to bounce back after that last game. We still feel we need to play better, but that was an important win for us tonight.”
Ryan Potulny had two goals and Dustin Penner and Gilbert Brule also scored for the Oilers (10-12-4), who have lost two in a row and have just four wins in their last 17 games.
“There is no way we should have lost this hockey game,” said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn. “We did some really good things but what has been our problem here from day one is we don’t cover well against our net. We have a group that stares at the puck and doesn’t recognize danger.”
It was Heatley’s first game in Edmonton since declining a trade to the Oilers that would have seen him dealt from Ottawa for Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid.
Booed throughout the contest, Heatley recorded an assist on Marleau’s first-period goal.
“They booed a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad,” he said. “I’m kind of glad to get this all over with. There was a lot of hype. I’m glad to get the two points and get out of here.”
Tied 3-3 late in the third, Edmonton went ahead with five minutes left as Smid circled deep in the San Jose zone before sending a pass to Potulny in front for his second of the night.
The game looked to be over as the Oilers went to the power play with less than two minutes left. But they lost control of the puck off a faceoff in their own zone and Marleau pounced to score his third of the night with just 1:26 left to tie the game 4-4.
“We actually won the bloody draw,” Quinn said. “But then there was a very poor response from our guys. We keep giving teams gifts.”
The Oilers got some bad news before the game as the team announced that forward Ales Hemsky requires season-ending shoulder surgery. Hemsky is second in team scoring with 22 points in 22 games.
The Sharks drew first blood five minutes in as Thornton sent a pass from behind the net to Marleau, who beat Oilers starter Jeff Deslauriers cleanly for his 15th goal of the season.
The first period ended with a bit of a tussle as the Sharks’ Jed Ortmeyer bowled Potulny over while the Oiler forward was on his knees, prompting Cogliano to tackle Ortmeyer.
Edmonton had 10 first-period shots on Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov to the Sharks’ nine.
The Oilers tied the game 1-1 midway through the second period. Potulny stripped a puck form Thornton and went in on a breakaway, stuffing a backhand shot through Nabokov’s legs.
Edmonton took the lead just two minutes into the third when Brule made a nice move to gain the zone and fired a bullet on Nabokov with Penner trailing on the play to chip home the rebound.
The Oilers made it 3-1 just two minutes later as the scoring roles were reversed with Penner dishing a puck from behind the net to Brule, who deposited his seventh of the season.
But just two minutes after that, the Sharks made it a one-goal game again as Thornton sent a puck through the crease to Marleau, who buried his second of the night.
The Sharks were able to tie the game 3-3 with an extra attacker on for a delayed Oiler penalty. Ryane Clowe spun around in front of the net and slipped in a shot that had Deslauriers going the other way.
The Oilers start a six-game road trip in Vancouver on Saturday night. The Sharks follow them into Vancouver to play the Canucks on Sunday night.
Notes: Deslauriers got his fifth consecutive start in the Edmonton net with usual starter Nikolai Khabibulin out with back spasms. … With the Oilers continuing to lead the league in man-games lost to injury, the team called up a pair of players from Springfield to play against the Sharks in forwards Ryan O’Marra and Colin McDonald. It was McDonald’s first NHL game. … Sharks centre Torrey Mitchell was activated by the club for the game after a conditioning stint in the AHL. The Sharks shipped Joe Callahan to Worcester to create roster room. … San Jose captain Rob Blake has returned to practice, but is still sidelined with an upper body injury suffered in a Nov. 4 game at Columbus. Forward Devin Setoguchi also remains on injured reserve list with a lower body injury. … The Sharks won three of four against the Oilers last season and came into the game as winners of three straight in Edmonton.