EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — With their first playoff berth in more than a decade already secured, the Edmonton Oilers now seem to have their sights set even higher.
Patrick Maroon scored twice and the streaking Oilers took over sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
“This is playoffs for us. We are going to be playing these teams eventually, whether it is the first round, second round, third round, whatever,” Maroon said.
“We have to continue to be in their face and try to find ways to win and make them not want to come here and play us. That is what we are set up to do. We want to make them scared and make sure they know that we are a good hockey team,” he added.
Connor McDavid had a goal and Cam Talbot made 38 saves for the Oilers, who have won four in a row and eight of nine to move within one point of first-place Anaheim.
“You want to play these games heading into the playoffs,” McDavid said. “Those meaningful games. We’re ramping it up, and we feel pretty good about our game right now.
“It’s a good time to be an Oiler.”
Jannik Hansen and Joe Pavelski scored for the struggling Sharks, who lost for the seventh time in eight games and dropped to third place in the Pacific.
Despite the loss, Hansen thinks the Sharks are starting to round back into form.
“We’re obviously getting closer to the playoffs here. We need to have our game in the right spot. The last two games have been a whole lot better than the previous six,” he said.
San Jose didn’t take long to get on the scoreboard, as Hansen chipped a rebound over Talbot just 61 seconds into the game.
Edmonton tied it midway through the first period when McDavid made a perfect pass to give Maroon a wide-open net behind Sharks goalie Martin Jones.
With assists on the play, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl extended their point streaks to nine games apiece, and McDavid became the first player in the NHL to reach 90 points this season.
McDavid added to his total on a short-handed goal with 2:32 left in the first period, dancing past Patrick Marleau and beating Jones with a backhand for his 28th of the season.
After a scoreless second period, the Oilers went up 3-1 eight minutes into the third when Maroon tipped Kris Russell’s shot past Jones for his 27th goal of the season.
The Sharks got back into the game with six minutes left when Pavelski deflected in a shot for his 29th, but couldn’t complete the comeback as Talbot stood his ground.
NOTES: It was the fourth of five meetings between the teams this season. The Sharks won two of the first three games. The Oilers will play in San Jose on April 6th. . San Jose forward Logan Couture missed his second game after taking a puck to the face against Nashville and is not on the road trip. . McDavid became the first player 20 or younger with 90 points in a season since Steven Stamkos in 2009-10.
Sharks: Right back at it Friday, facing the Flames in Calgary.
Oilers: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.