Playoff experience gives Sharks an edge in Game 1 win over Oilers

Experience gives Sharks an edge in Game 1

EDMONTON — Experience definitely appeared to be a factor in the San Jose Sharks taking a 1-0 series lead in their first round playoff series with the Edmonton Oilers.

After trailing 2-0 after the first period, the Sharks outshot the Oilers 34-9 from there, going on to win 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Melker Karlsson, 3:22 into extra time.

Joel Ward and Paul Martin scored the other goals for the Sharks, who went to the Stanley Cup final last season, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

“It was a big win,” said San Jose forward Tomas Hertl, who assisted on the tying goal early in the third. “We came back so strong. The reason we went so far last year is because we kept coming back in the second and third periods. We just keep going. We have a deep team. If we keep playing this same way, we will win the next game here, too.”

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said he is not sure if it was his team’s experience or just an overall sense of composure that turned the tide.

“Tonight we were just committed to doing it a certain way and we didn’t really get away from it,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s experience or not, or commitment, or whatever it was, but maybe it played a little role in there and it’ll need to going forward.”

The Oilers, meanwhile, were playing their first playoff game since 2006.

Sharks centre Logan Couture, last year’s leading scorer in the NHL playoffs with 30 points, was back wearing a full protective shield as he made his return to the lineup in time for Game 1 after missing the final seven games of the regular season following taking a puck in the face.

He said he still has some work to do to get back to the top of his game.

“I don’t think I was very good or effective,” he said. “I am happy to get a game under my belt. I can play a lot better than I did tonight. The team won and this time of year, that is all that matters.”

San Jose remained without veteran forward Joe Thornton, who missed the final three games of the regular season with a knee injury and is still day-to-day.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said that his team’s performance to start the playoffs is far more indicative of his squad than the one that stumbled down the stretch, losing nine of their final 13 games in the regular season.

“It doesn’t matter where we were in March,” he said. “We’re here now and we’re playing and that’s all that matters.”

The second game of the series takes place on Friday in Edmonton, before shifting to San Jose on Sunday.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press