Kassian scores in 3rd, Oilers beat Sharks 1-0 in Game 3
Connor McDavid carried the Edmonton Oilers back to the playoffs after a decade-long drought. Now that they’re in the postseason, it’s Zack Kassian and Cam Talbot doing the heavy lifting.
Kassian scored midway through the third period for his second straight game-winner, Talbot made 23 saves in his second consecutive shutout and the Oilers beat the San Jose Sharks 1-0 Sunday night in Game 3 of their first-round series.
“You can’t say enough about him right now,” Talbot said of Kassian. “He’s playing at a new level. I think he’s picked up his game. That’s what we need in the playoffs. Your top guys get marked pretty hard. We need secondary scoring and he’s giving it to us right now.”
The Oilers bounced back from an overtime loss in their first playoff game in 11 years to post consecutive shutouts and take a 2-1 series lead over the defending Western Conference champions. Game 4 is Tuesday night in San Jose.
Edmonton weathered a spirited start by the Sharks fueled in part by the return of Joe Thornton from a knee injury, then the Oilers took control and capitalized on a costly turnover to take the lead.
David Schlemko’s clearing attempt was intercepted by Kassian in the slot, and Kassian beat Martin Jones with a backhand to make it 1-0 with 9:15 to play.
“I saw he was looking for a long pass, and I just tried to get in the way,” Kassian said. “Lucky for me, I got a stick on it and tried to settle it down and shot it on net.”
Kassian also scored the first goal in Edmonton’s 2-0 win in Game 2, giving him two straight game-winners after having none the past two regular seasons.
The Sharks were held to 10 shots over the final two periods and didn’t even get a shot on goal on a pair of power-play chances as Thornton’s return was unable to change San Jose’s fortunes.
The Sharks are 1 for 14 on the power play in the series and allowed two short-handed goals in Game 2. San Jose has not scored since Melker Karlsson’s overtime winner in the opener. This marked the first time San Jose has been shut out in consecutive playoff games since Dallas did it in a second-round series.
“We need to find a way to score,” captain Joe Pavelski said. “In the second, they ramped it up a bit and we couldn’t match it. They found a bounce and we didn’t. This told us we’re right there.”
Jones made 21 saves.
The Shark Tank was energized for the first playoff game here since Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup last June, and vocal pockets of Oilers fans broke up the sea of teal.
The game started with a fast pace and much more physical play from the Sharks than they showed in Edmonton. Thornton’s first touch generated loud cheers, and San Jose’s fourth line led by rookie Timo Meier created chances with a hard forecheck.
“Early on we had some pep,” Thornton said. “We had our chances. It was a good hockey game by both teams. In one-goal games, it can go either way.”
But neither team scored in the first period, with Jones making his best stop early on an odd-man rush against Patrick Maroon and Talbot robbing Marcus Sorensen on a rebound chance from the slot.
“We’re confident in him back there,” Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle said. “Every time we need a save, he seems to be there. You have to give credit to him. He’s done well limiting the chances we’ve given them.”
After being outshot 13-6 in the first period, the Oilers controlled the play in the second, with the Sharks struggling to keep up with McDavid’s speed. He nearly created two goals on one shift, but no teammate was able to get to his wraparound attempt and then Jones stopped him on a one-timer.
NOTES: Edmonton last had back-to-back playoff shutouts in the final two games of a first-round series against Colorado in 1998. … Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl was replaced on the top line in the second period by Anton Slepyshev. … Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, donned in a Sharks jersey, opened the dressing room door to lead San Jose’s players on the ice before the game. … F Mikkel Boekder was scratched to make room for Thornton.