SAN JOSE, Calif. – Two breakaway goals less than a minute apart Saturday night proved to be the difference as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 and advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The goals by forwards Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev came 56 seconds apart and Oilers goalie Cam Talbot made 26 saves for the Game 6 victory. Veteran Patrick Marleau scored the lone goal for San Jose while Oilers star Connor McDavid hit the empty net with less than a second remaining.
The Oilers had qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2006 while the Sharks were the defending Western Conference champions after reaching the Stanley Cup final for the first time a year ago.
The first three minutes of the second period were a microcosm of the game, with the Oilers able to take advantage of their opportunities and the Sharks unable to capitalize on any of their own.
The sequence began when Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom blocked a shot by Sharks defenceman Justin Braun and the puck was steered to Draisaitl breaking down ice behind the San Jose defence. His 15-foot wrist shot beat Sharks goalie Martin Jones and the Oilers took a 1-0 lead at the 54-second mark.
On the next shift, Sharks forward Chris Tierney’s pass to Paul Martin at the blue line was fumbled long enough for Slepyshev to swoop in and carry the puck into the San Jose zone where he made it 2-0 at 1:50.
The Sharks immediately bounced back with a pair of scoring chances — the first a 2-on-1 break with Logan Couture and Marcus Sorensen, the second when Marleau drove the net after taking a pass from Joe Thornton — but came away empty handed.
Marleau did get the puck past Talbot at 12:12 of the third period after taking a cross-crease feed from Couture to make it a 2-1 game. San Jose nearly tied the game on a power play about four minutes later, but a shot by Joe Pavelski hit both the crossbar and a post.
The second-round series between the Oilers and Anaheim Ducks will open at the Honda Center. Edmonton won three of the five games between the two teams in the regular season, the most recent a 3-2 overtime win on April 1.