EDMONTON -- Two games after blowing a two-goal, third period lead on home ice to the Detroit Red Wings, the Edmonton Oilers let another one slip away, squandering a two-goal third period lead at home to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.
In a playoff race so tight you never know which lost point might be the one that keeps you out of the postseason, the Oilers are handing them out like candy. They gave out two more to the Sharks' 4-3 shootout victory.
"It's just tough, that's a game that not only did we need the two points, but I thought we deserved them, for the most part," winger Ryan Jones said. "We just need to find that little bit of whatever it is to get through the end of the game."
The Oilers, 3-0-1 in their last four, were looking to move into the top eight for the first time since the opening days of the season at the expense of a Sharks team that had one win in its last seven starts.
They seemed in full control after Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff scored first and second period goals and a Jones wraparound made it 3-1 with 16 minutes to go in the third.
But when the Sharks pushed back, the Oilers withered. Logan Couture's second of the night made it 3-2 on the power play at 6:50 and three minutes after that, Tommy Wingels tied it on a short-side wrist shot.
The Sharks scored on two of three shots in the shootout as the Oilers watched another one slip through their fingers.
"Those are big points, especially at the point in the season we are right now," said Oilers defenseman Nick Schultz. "We're playing good hockey, we're finding our game, we're competing against the top teams in the league and we believe that we belong here. It's just another aspect of the game we have to get better at, playing with leads.
"It's just bearing down, making hard plays, making the simple plays. You can't panic, you have to rely on your system and what you've done throughout the game."
The win stops the bleeding in San Jose, at least for a day or two. The Sharks began the season with seven straight wins and looked virtually unbeatable, but they've been struggling to find their way ever since with just six wins in the last 22 games.
"We're searching for some answers," said winger Joe Pavelski. "We have to get back to finding our game on a consistent basis. It's up to us to figure things out."
This helps, as winning often does.
"You end these type of questions when you start putting wins together," said defenseman Dan Boyle. "We saw what we could do early on. And we were in a tight spot last year, we were out of a playoff spot and we got ourselves back in. That being said, we need to go out and win hockey games.
"The west is so tight You put a couple wins together and all of a sudden you're on top. you put a couple losses together and you're out of it. Edmonton is in the same position we are, they're trying to get points."
NOTES: Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the rink about two hours before the game after coming down with a flu that's been running through the team. ... San Jose came into the game with a 13-2-3 in its last 18 games with Edmonton. In their previous visit to Edmonton they scored six goals in the first period of a 6-3 victory. ... Gagner has been a model of consistency, picking up at least a point in 23 of Edmonton's 29 games. ... Despite playing in only 14 games this season, Edmonton defenseman Marc Fistric is third on the team in hits with 56. ... Edmonton ranks third in the NHL with four shorthanded goals, Lennart Petrell has two of them. ... San Jose's Marc-Edouard Vlasic became the second player from the 2005 NHL draft to reach 500 NHL games. Only Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar has played more games from the class of 2005... Edmonton's five shots in the opening 20 minutes against San Jose marked the fourth time in five periods the Oilers had been held to six or fewer shots