Sharks test stronger bite vs. division-best Oilers
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After a rough start to the season, the San Jose Sharks are starting to find ways to win.
The Sharks (10-10-1, 21 points) reached the point-per-game plateau with a 4-3 shootout victory against Detroit on Saturday and will put a six-game winning streak on the line Tuesday night when they host the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers (13-6-3, 29 points).
Kevin Labanc had a goal, two assists and the shootout winner against the Red Wings.
"It feels awesome, but it doesn't stop there," Labanc told reporters. "We've just got to make sure we keep this momentum going."
The Sharks' winning streak followed a 1-6-1 stretch and helped them move past Los Angeles and out of the division cellar.
"We're obviously in a better spot now than we were six games ago, and we still have a long way to go," said defenseman Erik Karlsson, who played in his 700th NHL game on Saturday. "I think we're finding ways to win games now. I don't think we played well in Anaheim or (Saturday) in long stretches, but we're finding a way."
Coach Peter DeBoer echoed that theme after San Jose beat a Red Wings team that is tied for the fewest points in the Eastern Conference.
"When you're putting together a winning streak, you're going to win all kinds of different ways," DeBoer said. "You're going to put some solid games together, and you're going to have to win some like this."
The Oilers will be opening a five-game trip. The teams met a week ago in San Jose, with the Sharks winning 6-3 as Timo Meier and Barclay Goodrow each had a goal and an assist.
"We weren't ready to go off the hop," Oilers captain Connor McDavid said after that game. "They come out strong here in this building and we definitely know that. Now it's happened to us a couple of times in this building and we have to be better."
The Oilers suffered a 5-4 overtime defeat against visiting Dallas on Saturday, blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.
"It's a good lesson," Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse said. "We move on to the next one, but those are ones you want to pick up when you're in the driver's seat going into the third. You have to find a way to win them, and (Saturday) we didn't have it."
The Oilers' Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist to extend his league-leading point streak to 12 games (10 goals, 17 assists) and McDavid added three helpers.
"We're in the middle of November. I want us to recognize in the middle of March when we're playing really hard games that those are the plays that really count," Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. "We'll use it as a learning tool right now, but in the middle of March you're not going to have time for learning tools. You have to be a good team by then if you want to be a playoff team.
"But from where we were to where we are now, they're steps ahead. We're recognizing situations that I think the good teams do. But now we just have to do it more."