Oilers-Sharks Preview

The San Jose Sharks have recovered from a mediocre start with a strong eight-game run, and their only loss in that span is starting to look worse and worse.

It came against the Edmonton Oilers, who haven't won since while scoring on occasion.

The teams meet in San Jose on Thursday night for the third time in 12 days with the Sharks primed to match a season-best four-game winning streak.

That run began Dec. 9 with a 5-2 home win over the Oilers (7-19-6) after a 2-1 loss in Edmonton two nights earlier. The surge continued with a 2-0 win Saturday against Nashville that extended their home win streak to six on the third date of a five-game homestand.

The Sharks (17-11-4) got a goal and an assist from Joe Thornton, who has three straight multipoint games and five in his last seven against the Oilers.

Joe Pavelski had an assist against the Predators and scored twice in last week's win over Edmonton, giving him five goals and three assists in his last four in the series.

Antti Niemi made 18 of his 29 saves in the third to get his second shutout of the season after missing the previous three games. Niemi sat out the game in Edmonton, then was hit by a puck in practice and missed the next two.

"I thought he was very sharp when he needed to be," coach Todd McLellan said. "His week hasn't been easy. He gets injured, misses some starts, comes into a game like that and really doesn't get tested until the third period. He was able to stay in it mentally and physically, and made some saves in the third when we needed them."

Niemi has won his last five starts with a 2.20 goals-against average and is 4-0-1 with a 2.13 GAA against the Oilers in San Jose.

The Sharks have allowed seven goals in their last five games, which doesn't bode well for an Edmonton club that has dropped four straight at the Shark Tank.

After Tuesday's 2-1 overtime loss in Arizona, the Oilers are 1-11-5 dating to Nov. 11. They're 0-4-1 since beating the Sharks to earn their only victory against the Western Conference (1-15-5).

The loss to the Coyotes was interim coach Todd Nelson's first game since replacing Dallas Eakin, and captain Andrew Ference said the focus hasn't shifted.

"I think everybody was trying to put solid games under their belts, not missing their assignments. Making sure we're still concentrating on cleaning up the defensive zone and opportunities against. That's still a focus, whether it was last week or this week," Ference told the team's official website. "When we were sound in our own end it created more offense for us and a better game for us."

Ben Scrivens was certainly a bright spot with 42 saves. Over his last three appearances, he's 0-1-1 with a 1.11 GAA.

He was also in goal for both games against the Sharks last week, and the win was the only time he hasn't allowed five goals in his last four against them. He's 1-3-0 with a 4.04 GAA in that time.

The Oilers have scored 18 goals in 13 games, which includes a 3-for-32 stretch on the power play. The Sharks' penalty kill is 19 for 21 over their 7-1-0 stretch.

Edmonton's scoring issues include a four-game streak without a point for Jordan Eberle, but the forward has nine points on a six-game streak against San Jose.

David Perron has also gone four without marking the scoresheet, but he scored in both games against the Sharks.

Taylor Hall hasn't scored in 10 games for the longest drought in his career.

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