The Edmonton Oilers have seen a long losing streak virtually end any chance they had of repeating as Western Conference champions. If the San Jose Sharks don’t play with more urgency, they also could be in trouble down the stretch.
Both teams will try to get on track when they meet on Sunday in San Jose.
With few healthy players available, Edmonton lost 5-1 to Anaheim on Friday night, sending the Oilers to their season-high sixth straight defeat. Edmonton had just 17 healthy skaters and both goalies were battling the flu.
“Obviously, we’re missing some key guys and it’s hard to play like that,” center Petr Sykora said. “We don’t have a lot of scoring power, so we don’t really have anything going as far as lines are concerned.”
The Oilers (30-32-6) have lost 10 of 12 to fall out of the playoff race after reaching the Stanley Cup finals last season.
“We have to come back,” said Toby Petersen, who scored the only goal for the Oilers on Friday. “We still have a couple of games on the road trip and we have to find a way to win.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us. We have a lot of injuries and everyone’s talking about that. But we have to put that behind us and forget about it. We have to move on and move forward.”
Edmonton has been outscored 24-5 during its six-game skid, losing every contest by at least two goals. The Oilers finish their three-game California trip against Los Angeles on Monday.
The Sharks (40-25-3) couldn’t match the intensity from their road trip, falling 2-1 in overtime to Vancouver on Friday in the opener of a three-game homestand. San Jose had posted consecutive shutouts over Dallas and Minnesota before Friday’s defeat.
The Sharks have lost four straight and seven of their last eight at HP Pavilion. They’ve lost five of seven overall.
“We need more guys playing with a sense of urgency that just doesn’t show at home the way it does on the road,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “It seems that we’re much more focused and intense in road games. Maybe we’re more afraid of losing. We should be more physical and a whole lot angrier.”
San Jose hosts Chicago on Tuesday, then plays five of its next six on the road. The Sharks have 83 points, tied with Dallas for second in the Pacific Division, but 10 behind leader Anaheim.
Despite Friday’s loss, Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov broke his own franchise mark for the longest shutout streak in team history, going 166 minutes, seven seconds without allowing a goal. He was in net for both shutout victories, then held the Ducks scoreless for two periods before surrendering his first goal since March 2.
Nabokov has started 11 straight games with Vesa Toskala sidelined with a groin injury. The pair had alternated starts this season before Toskala got hurt.
Nabokov was in net as the Sharks lost the first two meetings with Edmonton this season before Toskala picked up a 5-1 win on Jan. 26. The Oilers have won six of the last eight between these teams while the Sharks have just one home victory over Edmonton in the last six matchups at HP Pavilion.