Sharks seek to keep McDavid, Oilers in check
With the season ending in just over three weeks, time is running out on Connor McDavid's bid to repeat as a 100-point scorer.
That push could further be stalled Wednesday night as the San Jose Sharks have kept the reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner in check in 2017-18.
San Jose opens a three-game trip across Western Canada against Edmonton in the final matchup of between the Pacific Division rivals this season.
A Sharks sweep is not out of the realm of possibility. Edmonton (30-35-4) and the Vancouver Canucks are 13th and 14th in the Western Conference, respectively. The Calgary Flames are outside the playoff bubble but one of several teams still with a legitimate shot for a spot.
"Obviously, we got a tough schedule coming up, we go on the road and (into) some tough buildings," coach Peter DeBoer said after his club's 5-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. San Jose is second in the division and fifth in the conference.
San Jose (37-23-9) has taken two of three from the Oilers this season, but lost its only visit to Edmonton on Dec. 18. With 13 games left for the Oilers, Sharks defenseman Dylan DeMelo is not about to overlook them.
"At this time of the year, anytime you don't bring your 'A' effort and your 'A' game, you're not going to come out on top against anybody," said DeMelo, who's recorded seven of his 15 assists this season over the last five games.
San Jose has been outscored 13-4 during a three-game skid on the road. Continuing to keep McDavid off the scoresheet could be a factor in ending that slide.
McDavid, who led the league with 100 points last season, is third with 84 points (33 goals, 51 assists), and trails Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins (87 points) and Nikita Kucherov (91 points) of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"I'm just looking to finish out the season strong with the team and individually as well," he recently told the league's official website. "This is a growing period for our group to feel good about ourselves going into the summer and coming into next year."
McDavid's seven-game point streak (six goals, seven assists) ended with a 1-0 loss to Calgary on Tuesday. San Jose has limited the 21-year-old star to one goal in three games this season.
"He's got all the talent in the world and I think he's a little bit sour and a little bit bitter with how the year has gone," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "He's not going to go away whimpering."
While Edmonton's leading scorer has struggled against San Jose, the same cannot be said for the Sharks' top point producer, Joe Pavelski (18 goals, 37 assists). The longtime captain has four goals -- on 11 shots -- with five helpers in the season series.
Sharks starting goaltender Martin Jones is 8-10-4 with a 2.57 goals-against average on the road this season, and 1-2-2, 3.49 over four career starts in Edmonton.
Backup Aaron Dell is 8-2-2 away from the Bay Area. In his only career appearance versus the Oilers, he stopped 27 shots in a 6-4 win Feb. 10. Fellow backup Al Montoya was on the losing end in that contest after turning away 24 of 29 shots.
Montoya has yet to win in two games with one start at Rogers Place after being acquired Jan. 5 from the Montreal Canadiens.
Cam Talbot, who made 31 saves Tuesday, stopped 50 of 57 shots while splitting two starts against the Sharks in this season. If he starts, Talbot will be in search of his third straight home win over San Jose.
Edmonton is 4-3-1 in the back ends of games on consecutive nights.
"We'll get some rest and we're going to have to play a tough team (Wednesday)," McLellan said.
Updated March 14, 2018