SAN JOSE, Calif. – The task for the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks when they faced the worst team in the Western Conference was to make sure the Edmonton Oilers never regained their confidence.
Jamie McGinn and Douglas Murray scored first-period goals and the Sharks just coasted from there to win their eighth straight game, 4-1 over the struggling Oilers on Saturday night.
“You can definitely get a sense of a team that’s struggling not only to score goals but to win hockey games,” said Murray, who scored his third goal in 250 career games. “But they are a dangerous team, too. Every team in this league has a lot of talent. All of a sudden they could break out and things start working for them. We had to make sure we played hard and played good hockey so they didn’t get any confidence to get going.”
After the goals from some unlikely sources gave the Sharks the lead, Dany Heatley scored his 24th and Patrick Marleau added his 27th goal in the second period to put the game away and give San Jose its longest winning streak of the season.
But coach Todd McLellan said the latest victory came in a “strange” game that lacked emotion. He hopes that’s not the case when the Sharks try to extend the streak to nine games Monday night against division rival Los Angeles.
“I didn’t think we were really sharp,” McLellan said. “I’m not sure if it was the score that made us that way or what it was. We’ve played better games. Here’s a coach, we just won and I’m complaining. But we have to keep our intensity up.”
Robert Nilsson scored the only goal for Edmonton, which has lost nine of 10. Two days after coach Pat Quinn called his team “dumb” following a loss in Calgary, the struggling Oilers were no match for the NHL’s top team.
“Hopefully we can still take the little steps here,” Quinn said. “At least we have to try. I still believe we can get this thing turned around.”
Even Edmonton’s goal was actually scored by the Sharks. Evgeni Nabokov cleared a rebound and the puck deflected off teammate Joe Pavelski and past Nabokov for a goal that was credited to Nilsson. San Jose did more than enough scoring at the other end to make up for that one mistake.
In the past 2½ weeks, the Sharks have won all eight games they played and had eight of their players picked for the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver. The eight Olympians matches Anaheim for the most of any NHL team and the Sharks are playing up to that level of late.
The winning streak is the longest since a nine-gamer early last season when the Sharks were the best team in the regular season only to lose in the opening round of the playoffs.
“It’s not like anyone here is through the roof,” Murray said. “You obviously want to get the Presidents’ Trophy in the regular season. But it’s the playoffs that really count. We just have to keep getting our game better.”
San Jose’s first two goals came on shots from the point. McGinn tipped in a shot from Kent Huskins to get the Sharks on the board with his seventh goal. Murray then beat Jeff Deslauriers with a blast from the point late in the period to make it 2-0 on his second goal of the season.
Heatley then scored on a wraparound in the opening minute of the period to make it 3-0. Marleau restored the three-goal lead when he took a pass from Joe Thornton during a 4-on-4 and skated in from the blue line and beat Deslauriers with a wrist shot. Marleau trails Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers by one for the league lead in goals.
“It was pretty tough for me. I wasn’t able to control very much tonight,” Deslauriers said. “The first three goals, even the fourth, I had a chance to do something but for some reason I let them get away. At this level you can’t do that.”
Nabokov made 22 saves for the Sharks. He wasn’t tested much, but did rob Gilbert Brule with a glove save in the final minute of the second period.
NOTES: Oilers D Lubomir Visnovsky did not make the trip to San Jose after spraining his left ankle Thursday in Calgary. He is day to day. … Sharks F Manny Malhotra missed the game because of an undisclosed lower-body injury. … Thornton finished the past decade as the NHL’s leading scorer with 817 points. Jarome Iginla had 737. … Jody Shelley and Brad Staubitz returned from injuries for the Sharks. Staubitz assisted on Murray’s goal.