The Edmonton Oilers are by far the worst team in the NHL when it comes to protecting a lead established through 40 minutes and tonight looked like it might be another example of that, but they bounced back from their early third period struggles to earn a 5-4 shootout victory.
Edmonton had a 3-1 lead going into the third period, but the Sharks responded with three goals in the first half of the third, including Joe Pavelski’s 27th marker of the season.
For a while it looked like that might be the winner, but Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz managed to even things up in the dying minutes of regulation time.
After overtime failed to solve anything, Edmonton and San Jose settled in for a 13-round shootout. Both Edmonton goalie Viktor Fasth and Sharks netminder Antti Niemi stood tall for much of the skills competition, with Fasth denying 12 of 13 skaters. In the end it was Rob Klinkhammer, who has just 20 goals in 151 career games, that managed to end the contest.
The Oilers have now won four of their last six games and have consequently opened a six-point lead over Buffalo in the battle to avoid the NHL basement. The Sabres have lost 14 straight contests.
At the same time, this was a potentially damaging night for Edmonton. The squad lost forwards Benoit Pouliot and Taylor Hall due to injuries, per the Oilers’ Twitter feed. Pouliot was hurt when he took a shot off his foot while Hall re-aggravated the leg injury that kept him out of Edmonton’s previous three contests.