EDMONTON, Alberta — A lot was made of the disparity in playoff experience between the Sharks and the Edmonton Oilers before their opening round series began. Then the Sharks went out in Game 1 and showed why it was a big deal.
As the Sharks get ready for Game 2 on Friday at Rogers Place, once again, having some past experiences to lean on could come into play.
The Sharks were in this same spot in the first round last season. Up 1-0 in the series against Los Angeles in 2016, the Sharks won another hard-hitting one-goal game against the Kings in Game 2 at Staples Center to head home in total command.
It’s a little chillier in Edmonton than Hollywood, but the Sharks’ approach won’t change.
“You learn a lot going through experiences in the playoffs,” Sharks center Logan Couture said. “You really have to go through it to learn it. People can say things, but until you personally go through it, in that aspect, experience does help.”
The Sharks know they’ll need to ramp things up to take a two-games-to-none lead over the Oilers, who have all kinds of ways they want to improve.
Puck management, shift lengths and discipline were all hot topics for the Oilers on Thursday, all mistakes they feel are easily correctable.
“Our game didn’t go to crap in one night,” Edmonton winger Patrick Maroon said. “It’s just one game. We’re fine. We’re in a great situation. … We can take the bad and learn from it.”
The question is how much of what happened Wednesday did the Oilers bring on themselves, and how much of it was the result of the Sharks’ play.
“We have to forget about the game we just played, put that win in the bank and replicate that effort on our end,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. “If we do that, we’ll have a good chance to win Game 2.”
Even though the Sharks were behind by two goals in the first period in Game 1, they didn’t mind how they were playing.
The Oilers didn’t get their first shot until the 5:26 mark of the first, and the Sharks had some things to build on once they began the second period. After the first intermission, the Sharks outshot the Oilers 34-9 the rest of the way and won 3-2 in overtime.
At the end of the second period, Oilers defensemen Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson were stuck on the ice for 2:32 as the Sharks went through three line changes.
The Sharks might not enjoy the same type of advantages in Game 2. But it won’t be hard to recognize when they’re paying attention to details and playing their style of hockey.
“We were just trying to build our game,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “You have a little momentum, you try to carry it along as long as you can because it can change in a hurry. You can’t take anything for granted.”
Connor McDavid, who was one of a handful of Oilers who were making their playoff debuts, had a breakaway chance stopped by goalie Martin Jones.
Otherwise he was limited to one other shot on net, as the Sharks mostly kept the dynamic 20-year-old from getting behind their defense.
“We did a good job of it last night. It just has to stay there and you have to be committed to that,” Pavelski said of slowing down McDavid. “It’s something that I learned a long time ago, and I don’t think it’s a part of the game that really ever changes.”
There’s no guarantee the Sharks will take control of the series before it shifts back to San Jose. It’s just that they’re fully aware of what it’ll take to see it through.
“They’re going to be a lot better and we know that,” Couture said of the Oilers. “We’ve been through a lot of playoff series on this side and we realize you don’t win a series in one game, you don’t win a series in one period. They’re going to improve.
Couture said Oilers coach Todd McLellan “and that staff over there, they know what they’re doing, and we’re going to have to be better as well to beat them tomorrow night.”