Sharks aiming to get healthy as playoffs approach

By Matt Becker
Stats Senior Writer

San Jose (50-15-11) at Edmonton (36-32-2), 9:30 p.m. EDT

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — With the playoffs starting in two
weeks, the San Jose Sharks are trying to get several key players
healthy for a Stanley Cup run. They’re also making a strong push
for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Short-handed San Jose looks to continue its quest for first
place in the West and match a franchise record for victories
Thursday night when it visits the stumbling Edmonton Oilers, who
try to avoid falling further out of the playoff race.

After clinching their second consecutive Pacific Division crown
with Saturday’s 3-2 win over Phoenix, the Sharks defeated
Calgary 2-1 on Monday to reach 50 victories for the second time
in team history. The only other time San Jose had 50 wins was in
2006-07, when it recorded a franchise-best 51.

With Monday’s win, the Sharks (50-15-11) also moved four points
ahead of Detroit in the race for first in the West with six
games remaining for each team. San Jose is 5-1-1 since March 19,
but it hasn’t been easy with all the injured players missing

The Sharks were without nine regulars Monday, including captain
Patrick Marleau, defenseman Rob Blake and left wing Ryan Clowe.

Marleau, who leads the Sharks with 37 goals, is also expected to
miss this game. He was instrumental in San Jose’s two victories
over the Oilers (36-32-9) this season, scoring two goals in

While Marleau was out Monday, Jonathan Cheechoo returned after
missing two contests with a lower-body injury and scored the
go-ahead goal in the second period.

“Anytime you don’t have nine players, you want the other guys to
step up and play well,” said Evgeni Nabokov, who made 28 saves.
“Our system has changed a little bit, we’re not as aggressive
and we have to be a little bit smarter, and in a way, I think
it’s helped us.”

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Nabokov is 7-1-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average and one
shutout in starting the last 10 games for San Jose after missing
the previous seven with the flu and a lower-body injury. He has
also been in goal for each game against Edmonton this season,
going 2-0-1 with a 1.97 GAA.

While the Sharks are building momentum for the postseason, the
Oilers are in danger of missing the playoffs for the third
straight season.

Edmonton was seventh in the West on March 20 but has lost five
of six to fall into a 10th-place tie with Minnesota – three
points back of the final playoff spot.

In Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to Anaheim, Denis Grebeshkov and Zack
Stortini scored 68 seconds apart in the final minutes of the
third period to get the Oilers within one. The Ducks, though,
added an empty-net goal with 36 seconds remaining to put the
game away.

“There are still 10 points available,” Edmonton captain Ethan
Moreau said. “I’d like to believe if we continue to play the
style of hockey we did that we will have some success in the
last five games.”

Dwayne Roloson stopped 20 shots Tuesday to become the oldest
goalie in NHL history to appear in at least 60 games. The
39-year-old Roloson, who has made 33 consecutive starts, has
started each game against the Sharks this season, posting a 3.85
GAA in those meetings.