The Edmonton Oilers are on the cusp of becoming the first team to be shut out in four straight home games in 84 years.
Still, general manager Craig MacTavish claims he's seeing progress.
Facing a six-game home losing streak, the punchless Oilers hope to at least score a goal at Rexall Place for the first time this month as they face the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.
Western Conference-worst Edmonton (4-14-2) has been outscored 20-2 during its five-game home skid and that futility has it in the record books.
The Oilers have been shut out in a franchise-record three straight home games after falling 3-0 to Dallas on Wednesday, becoming the first team since the 1972-73 Minnesota North Stars to put together such a streak.
Failing to find the net Friday would make the Oilers to first team to go four straight home games without a goal since the Chicago Blackhawks went an NHL-record six straight from Feb. 10-28, 1929. The 1927 Montreal Maroons are the only other team to be blanked in four consecutive contests at home.
"Things obviously have not gone as well as what I would have thought possible. What this team needs is the continuity of coach, and they're going to get it," MacTavish said while backing rookie coach Dallas Eakins.
"Do we want to be paralyzed going forward because of the frustration and throw our hands up in the air," MacTavish told the team's official website. "Have we stopped fighting because we're frustrated? Absolutely not. Do I see progress? Yes. Is there optimism outside of our marketplace? Absolutely."
Finding optimism with the Sharks (11-2-5) coming to town is difficult for most since they are 9-1-1 in the last 11 visits to Edmonton, winning 4-3 in a shootout in the latest matchup March 20.
Facing the Oilers may be just what they need to make things easier on themselves after going 2-1-4 with six of those games decided after regulation. That includes a 2-1 overtime win at Vancouver on Thursday, two days after needing the extra period to beat Calgary 3-2.
''We're trying to find ways,'' Boyle said. ''That's what it's all about and in this league with the extra points they are giving now, it's just going to come down to the end of the year and you never know which extra point is going to solidify your playoff position or have you on the outside.''
Boyle scored the latest winner after setting up rookie Tomas Hertl for the tying goal with 1:05 left in regulation Thursday. The defenseman has three goals and two assists over the last three games, and he's recorded one point in 12 straight games at Edmonton.
Hertl, San Jose's leader with 11 goals, has three while setting up three others over the past five games.
Antti Niemi may be back in net after making 34 saves against the Canucks. He's 6-0-1 with a 2.35 goals-against average in seven career meetings, winning all three at Rexall Place behind a 2.60 GAA.
Niemi is 5-1-3 with a 1.83 GAA on the road this season.
The Oilers could use some balanced production from Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Eberle leads the team with 15 points, while Nugent-Hopkins is second with 13. However, they've both struggled greatly at home, combining for four points and a minus-21 rating.
"The last three games at home, I don't know what it is," Nugent-Hopkins said. "You are not going to win without scoring. We have to find a way to get the second and third opportunities."
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- San Jose Sharks