OILERS (16-25-5) at SHARKS (30-10-8)
Last 10: Oilers 1-8-1; Sharks 7-2-1
Season series: This is the third of four meetings. On Nov. 27, each team scored 3 goals in a wild third period before Joe Pavelski scored the game-deciding shootout goal to give the Sharks a road win. Patrick Marleau had a hat trick for San Jose, and Ryan Potulny scored twice for the Oilers. On Jan. 2, San Jose jumped out to a 3-0 second-period lead en route to a 4-1 home victory that included goals by Jamie McGinn, Douglas Murray, Dany Heatley and Marleau.
Big story: The Oilers are playing their second game since announcing that goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, signed to a four-year free agent contract last summer, would be undergoing surgery on his back to repair a herniated disc. As a result, he will most likely be lost to the team for the remainder of the 2009-10 regular season.
"(Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk) are our options right now and I'm fine with that," GM Steve Tambellini told the Edmonton Journal. "There was so much push last season for JD to get some playing time, and he is getting it this year. He's had some really good games and others he'd like back. Devan was probably the No. 1 goalie in the American League last year, playing over 60 games. Devan deserves a chance here, too."
Oilers: Edmonton is beginning a two-game road trip that will also take it to Colorado on Monday. The Oilers lost 3-2 at home to Pittsburgh on Thursday, blowing a 2-0 lead after two periods. Pascal Dupuis' tip-in midway through the third was the game-winner and completed the comeback.
"We should have won the game," Andrew Cogliano said. "For two and a half periods we shut down Crosby, (Evgeni) Malkin and their big guns."
"We do some stuff that I like a lot," coach Pat Quinn said. "We have played very well against good teams this year and then find a way to disappoint ourselves. That was tough because I thought our team played well and maybe deserved a different result. But we have to quit beating ourselves before we learn to win hockey games."
The Oilers have now lost six straight and 13 of the last 14.
Sharks: This is the second game in a three-game homestand that began with a 2-1 shootout loss against Boston on Thursday.
"I thought there were two games," coach Todd McLellan said. "The first 65 minutes we competed hard. We've got to give (Boston) credit. The second game, we had four pretty good shooters. You'd expect one goal out of them."
San Jose is 11-2-1 in its last 13 games and is currently tied with Chicago for most points in the League (68).
"There's no talk about the standings and playing in first place," McLellan said. "It's about our game and correcting things."
Who's hot: For the Oilers, Sam Gagner has a goal and 4 assists in six games, Patrick O'Sullivan has a goal and 4 assists in four games and Denis Grebeshkov has a goal and 2 assists in four games. … For the Sharks, Heatley has 3 goals and 3 assists in five games, Dan Boyle has a goal and 5 assists in five games and Marleau has 2 goals and an assist in three games.
Injury report: For the Oilers, Khabibulin (back), Mike Comrie (mononucleosis), Marc Pouliot (pubic bone) and Ales Hemsky (shoulder surgery) are on injured reserve. The Sharks have no injuries to report.
Stat pack: When scoring the first goal, the Oilers' record is 11-7-2. When the opposition scores first, they are 5-19-2. … When leading after the first period, Edmonton is 7-1-2. When leading after two, they are 9-2-1. … The Oilers have two Olympians -- Grebeshkov (Russia) and Lubomir Visnovsky (Slovakia). … San Jose will send a League-high eight players to the Winter Olympics -- Joe Thornton, Heatley, Marleau and Boyle of Canada; Thomas Griess of Germany; Evgeni Nabokov of Russia; Murray of Sweden; and Pavelski of the United States. … Marleau was the first NHL player this season to score 30 goals. He reached the mark on Jan. 12.
Puck drop: "It's a big opportunity to play as many games as I've played now (25) and learn as I am." -- Deslauriers to the Edmonton Journal