EDMONTON – Edmonton head coach Craig MacTavish wasn’t surprised that Evgeni Nabakov shut out his Oilers, but he was absolutely shocked that that he had such an easy time doing it.
Nabokov only needed just 13 saves to earn his sixth shutout of the season as the San Jose Sharks won their third game in a row, easily dispatching the Oilers 3-0 on Tuesday night. MacTavish said the lacklustre outing by his squad came as a shock.
“It was a humbling effort. I didn’t see this effort coming,” he said. “You can say that we got out-battled but we didn’t even get to the battle.
“It was a humiliating evening in virtually all of the aspects of the game.”
Oiler goaltender Mathieu Garon, perhaps the only bright spot for Edmonton with a 36 save night, says there is no excuse for coming out as flat as they did.
“I don’t think there is any reason for what happened tonight, we just didn’t show up as a team,” he said. “I don’t think anybody can leave here with the satisfaction of having a good night. When you need two points the way we do everybody has to show up and play a lot better than that.”
Edmonton looked like they were rusty after the all-star break, falling to 23-25-5 on the season.
“It’s very disappointing but there is nothing we can do about it right now except to show up tomorrow with a good attitude and work some things out,” said Oiler defenceman Steve Staios. “We’ve got to get the energy back up and start fresh.”
Joe Pavelski, Mike Grier and Patrick Rissmiller scored the San Jose goals.
“The guys were playing really well, we were pushing the pace pretty hard, and for 60 minutes which is nice to see,” Nabokov said. “After the break you never know how teams are going to respond. I thought we did a pretty good job.”
It was the third consecutive victory for the Sharks (28-15-8), who had lost four in a row before putting together their recent run.
“We played great tonight,” said Sharks head coach Ron Wilson. “All of our lines did a really good job of hounding the puck and we’ve done a really good job of that three games in a row. A lot more back to the way we played most of last year.”
Added Grier: “We went through a tough week. We were pretty down. We lost a little confidence, but the coaches talked to us and as players we knew we had to step it up and now I think we’ve gotten a little back to our forecheck game and our skating game so we’re going better now.”
The Sharks had the stronger start to the game through the scoreless first period, firing 10 shots on Garon while Edmonton only had five shots on Nabokov.
San Jose finally broke the deadlock with 8:12 remaining in the second period as a hard point shot bounced off of Edmonton defender Staios to Devin Setoguchi. Garon was able to make the stop on Setoguchi’s shot, but the rebound gave Pavelski a wide open net to score his 11th of the season.
The Sharks made it 2-0 with just 46 seconds to go in the second as Grier took a feed from Rissmiller and blasted a bullet over Garon’s shoulder. The Sharks certainly deserved to be holding the lead after the second out-shooting Edmonton 21-4 in the period and 31-9 to that point in the game.
Rissmiller added a late empty netter to seal the victory for San Jose.
The Sharks conclude their short two-game road swing in Calgary on Wednesday while the Oilers play the second game of a four game homestand on Friday against Dallas.
Notes: Oiler defenceman Sheldon Souray missed the game as his shoulder continues to plague him. He is expected to miss the next 1-2 weeks and will likely face surgery in the off-season This was the second of four regular season games between the teams. The Oilers won 3-2 in a shootout at Rexall Place in the season opener With their shootout win last Thursday, the Oilers have already tied the NHL record of 12 set by Dallas in the 2005-06 season The Sharks have struggled somewhat at home this season with a .500 record but have been dynamite on the road thus far going 17-4-3 Former Oiler Grier has just six goals for the Sharks this season, but when they have come they have counted for something, as four have been game winners.