EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers were able to halt more than one kind of losing streak on Sunday.
David Perron scored the game winner midway through the third period as the Oilers avoided a 12th straight defeat, getting past the San Jose Sharks 2-1.
Nail Yakupov also scored for the Oilers (7-15-5), who won at home for the first time in nine contests to dodge tying a team record for consecutive home losses.
Edmonton also captured just its first win against a fellow Western Conference opponent this season — improving to 1-12-4 in that category.
“We can finally put away the thing about not having one against the West,” Perron said. “That’s a good thing. There is one way to win and we did that tonight.”
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said changing the conversation on several of their sorry streaks at once was massive.
“Getting rid of that is huge,” he said. “Whatever you want to call it, getting the monkey off your back, an elephant, a large gorilla… it feels good for everybody. Most importantly, for our players and our fans. I thought we played a fairly similar game to our last one in Winnipeg. We have points in four of our last five games. I thought we played a real mature, smart game. It was a real solid effort.”
Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens said his team caught a bit of a break from the schedule-maker, but also stepped up their own game.
“San Jose was probably a tired group and we got them on the second night of a back-to-back, which was fortunate for us and helped us out,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we executed pretty well. That has to be our expectation now, of how we have to play. We made a couple of mistakes, but they weren’t as often or as egregious as they have been in the past.”
Tye McGinn scored in response for the Sharks (14-11-4), who had a four-game winning streak halted.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said his team wasn’t about to blame the loss on playing three games in four nights.
“If you go there, it begins to sound like we’re using excuses,” he said. “Teams play that in the league all the time. They (Oilers) happened to be sitting since Wednesday and they were fresh, they took advantage of it.
“I still think that good teams can find ways — and we almost did.”
There was no scoring in a relatively sedate first period, the lone highlight from which was a crushing hit by Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on Oilers rookie Tyler Pitlick.
Edmonton was the better team in the opening frame, putting 11 shots on Sharks goalie Alex Stalock, while San Jose only had two shots on Scrivens.
The Oilers broke the deadlock eight minutes into the second period on a power-play goal. Sharks defender Justin Braun lost his footing and landed on Stalock’s back as he was out of the crease trying to corral a puck, allowing Jordan Eberle to send the puck in front to Yakupov, who scored just his fourth of the season on the wide-open net.
San Jose tied the game two minutes later as Patrick Marleau out-hustled the Oiler defence to negate an icing call before making a nifty no-look backhand pass to an undefended McGinn, who beat Scrivens with a quick one-timer for his first of the season.
The Oilers caught a break just past the midway point of the third period to take a 2-1 lead. After sustained pressure in the Sharks’ zone, Perron through a puck towards the net that deflected off of San Jose defender Brenden Dillon and past a surprised Stalock. It was Perron’s fourth goal of the season.
“It’s funny, when you play the right way you get the bounces,” he said. “We have to work for our bounces and it feels like the last few games we have done that. It was good to get rewarded.”
Dillon was stunned that the puck went in on the play.
“A puck like that, that is going wide, I’m pretty much just trying to get out of the way,” he said. “It hits me perfectly and it goes in. It hit me in the stomach, I think. I just couldn’t believe it.”
San Jose poured it on late, but the Oilers clamped down and Scrivens stood tall, ending up with 20 saves on the night.
The Oilers and Sharks play a rematch in San Jose on Tuesday.
“We’re not going to have a parade over this,” Eakins said. “We have to get right back to business and play this same team, which is an extremely hard team to play against.”
Notes: It was the first of five games this season between the Sharks and the Oilers, three of them are scheduled in December. The Sharks won four of five games against the Oilers last season recording 18 goals in those four victories. Edmonton’s lone win came when goalie Ben Scrivens recorded a record 59 saves in a shutout win… San Jose forward Patrick Marleau had 26 points in his previous 22 meetings with the Oilers, scoring four goals and setting up two more against them last season… Stalock made his first start in the San Jose net since Nov. 8 because of a knee injury… Out with injuries for the Oilers were forwards Benoit Pouliot (foot) and Matt Hendricks (leg) and defenceman Nikita Nikitin (back)… Absent from the Sharks lineup were Troy Grosenick (upper body), Raffi Torres (knee), Matt Nieto (lower body) and Tyler Kennedy (arm).