NHL

Oilers-Sharks Preview

San Jose is halfway through a six-game homestand and its last opportunity to move past a season of home mediocrity before the playoffs, but even those struggles haven't ended the Sharks' home dominance over their next opponent.

Edmonton last won in regulation in San Jose more than five years ago, and if that trend continues Thursday night, the Sharks will clinch a playoff berth after missing out last year for the first time in 11 seasons under the Oilers' current coach.

The Sharks (41-26-6) started the homestand with two wins before Tuesday's 1-0 loss to St. Louis, ending a season-best four-game home winning streak.

Even with the recent success, San Jose is 16-16-3 for the worst home record among the top 11 Western Conference teams. Among all playoff contenders, only Boston (16-16-5) has reached that regulation loss total.

The Sharks failed to convert on a late two-man advantage and missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth. More importantly, they failed to gain ground in the Pacific Division after Los Angeles and Anaheim lost earlier in the night. San Jose remains one point behind the second-place Ducks and five in back of the Kings.

"It's tough. We're disappointed we lost there," Joe Pavelski told the team's official website. "We had an opportunity on the power play. We've got to come up with a big one there.

"Teams aren't losing much this time of the year and we had a chance to push it at least to overtime. It's a missed opportunity for sure. There aren't many games left to really make up a lot of points so you've got to make a chance like that count."

The Sharks remained consistent in the defensive zone while allowing just their second goal on the homestand, and they've limited opponents to 23.0 shots per game over the last seven overall.

San Jose last lost a home game to Edmonton on Jan. 13, 2011, going 7-0-2 since with 3.44 goals per game. They've also enjoyed a 5-0-2 overall span in the series with consecutive victories while limiting the Oilers to one goal.

Logan Couture scored twice in a 3-0 win at Edmonton on March 8, but those stand as his only goals in his last 15 games. Granted, it's been an unhealthy season for Couture, but his 0.65 points per game is his lowest mark since his rookie campaign.

Edmonton (29-40-7), the only team in the West to be formally eliminated from playoff contention, fell 4-2 in Arizona on Tuesday to start a three-game trip. The Oilers have scored more than two goals once in their last nine games.

Connor McDavid assisted on both goals and has seven assists on a five-game point streak, but the Oilers lost Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the second period to an undisclosed injury.

"Kind of the story of our season," coach Todd McLellan said of the team's numerous injuries. "We really don't know what we have."

McLellan is returning to San Jose for the second time since agreeing to part ways with San Jose after last season. The first trip back ended in a 2-1 shootout loss on Jan. 14.

Edmonton's Cam Talbot made 36 saves in that contest and has also been strong over the last month, going 7-4-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

Martin Jones hasn't given up more than two goals in a month, going 6-4-0 with a 1.61 GAA and .938 save percentage. He's 3-1-1 with 1.56 and .925 marks against the Oilers.

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