Once again Patrick Marleau stepped up and led the way for San Jose, the Sharks captain accounted for points on both San Jose scoring plays as the Sharks defeated the Oilers 2-1 in game one of their second round playoff series.
Marleau tallied a goal and an assist for San Jose as they rebounded from an early Edmonton goal to dominate the rest of the game against the Oilers. Jarolsev Spacek opened the scoring 2 and a half minutes into the game, with a nice shot that eluded Vesa Toskala. But from that point on the Sharks took control, first off with Marleau’s tying goal at 7:42 of the first, then on Christian Erhoff’s winner in the second.
Despite the closeness of the score, it was pretty much an all San Jose affair for the majority of the game; the Sharks outshot the Oilers 30-16, 21-7 in the final two periods alone and outhit them on the ice much the joy of the San Jose crowd.
Chris Pronger found himself with a bulls eye on his back from Jonathon Cheechoo’s crushing check early on in the game, to frequent attention from the Shark’s Ville Nieminen Pronger would have his head on a pivot for most of the game. Pronger and the Sharks fans have a bit of history that dates back to his days with the Blues, to say he’s not a popular player in San Jose would be a bit of an understatement.
Edmonton kept the power duo of Thornton and Cheechoo off the scoreboard which is a plus, but the inability to contain Marleau proved to be the downfall. It’s a tough call for the Oilers, should they try to shut down the Thornton/Cheechoo combination they leave Marleau available to add to his already impressive playoff stats. But if they focus in on him now, that may free up the other two, that’s something to keep Craig MacTavish awake at nights.
Fortunately or maybe unfortunately, he won’t get too many sleeps to worry, Game Two goes Monday night an unusual twist in the playoff format that sees the two teams play a back to back game to open the series. For Edmonton the need to step it out physically is a must, allowing the Sharks to beat them to the boards and knock them off the puck and their game could mean a short lived stay in the second round.