Sharks-Oilers Preview

The Edmonton Oilers are in disarray, but general manager Craig MacTavish isn't deviating from his long-term plan.

Matching the longest home losing streak in team history certainly isn't part of that strategy.

The Oilers go for a rare win over the San Jose Sharks in the opener of this home-and-home set Sunday night, trying to avoid moving within one loss of their franchise-record slide.

Edmonton (6-15-5) hasn't reached the playoffs since 2006, and there's little hope of ending that drought as it owns the fewest points in the NHL.

The Oilers' eight-game home losing streak (0-7-1) is one shy of the team record set from Oct. 16-Nov. 24, 1993. They're also mired in an 11-game overall skid (0-7-4) as they approach the longest in club history - 13 games from Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 30, 2010.

The pressure is mounting on MacTavish and second-year coach Dallas Eakins as the foundering franchise has failed to find success despite a roster full of high draft picks and promising talent.

The Oilers fell short again Wednesday, losing 3-2 at Winnipeg after Ben Scrivens gave up a goal 17 seconds into overtime.

MacTavish called a press conference Friday, but announced no organizational changes or a switch in philosophy during a testy exchange with the media.

"The accountability of the players to execute has to improve," MacTavish said. "There isn't any tangible evidence of any of that improvement, and that's what's so difficult for everybody to swallow."

That's still not enough for him to make changes to a team that's 0-12-4 against the Western Conference.

"As painful as this process is, we feel that it's a necessary step to get us to the next level," he said. "I've switched out 14 or 15 players in the 18 months that I've been on the job, and what I think I have now is a group that is capable of growth."

The Oilers are 29th in the league with an average of 3.42 goals against, and they've surrendered 32 while going 1-6-2 in their last nine meetings with the Sharks (13-10-4).

That includes a 5-2 defeat in the most recent meeting at Rexall Place on March 25.

Taylor Hall has been a rare bright spot against San Jose, collecting three goals and six assists in three games. The left wing, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft, has four assists over the past three games and is tied with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - whom the Oilers selected first overall in 2011 - for the team lead with 17 points.

Unlike the Oilers, the Sharks are gaining steam - totaling 18 goals during a season-high four-game winning streak. That's a dramatic improvement after they were held to six while losing the previous four contests.

San Jose continued to put that stretch behind it Saturday, winning 3-2 at Calgary as Patrick Marleau scored the go-ahead goal with 10:42 to play.

"We're finding a way to win and that's great to see," Marleau said according to the team's official Twitter account.

Joe Pavelski leads the Sharks with 12 goals, scoring three times in four games. The center had five goals and four assists while San Jose won four of five meetings with the Oilers last season.

He matched his career high with four points - netting a hat trick - in the most recent visit to Edmonton.

Marleau has 26 points in his last 22 meetings with the Oilers, scoring four goals and setting up two more against them last season.

The teams play again in San Jose on Tuesday.

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