Oilers Make Playoffs With OT Comeback Over Sharks|
By Ray Van Horn, Jr. Copyright 1999
It was a wild throwback to old-time hockey at San Jose Arena as the Sharks were shocked by a 5-4 overtime defeat at the hands of a playoff-hungry Edmonton Oilers squad.
At one point, it appeared evident that the Sharks were en route to a well-fought, disciplined win. However, a third period shootout resulting in 5 exchanged goals sent the game into overtime and an ultimately heartbreaking loss for the home team.
The game was chocked full of aggressive board checking, open-ice hits, flying bodies, knee-to-knee collisions and overall intense action between two teams intent on solidifying their playoff positions. The Sharks, currently the 7th Western Conference seed, had the Oilers dogging them all night, who, with a win, ensured them the final Conference playoff spot.
The Sharks jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 2:04 in the game on a well-executed breakaway set-up between Stephan Matteau and Joe Murphy. Murphy took a drop pass from Matteau and fed it back as Matteau slipped the puck past Edmonton's Tommy Salo, who left a huge net gap in the confusion. It was Matteau's 10th goal of the season.
Salo would be victimized again in the first period at 6:13 as San Jose's Patrick Marleau squirted through two Edmonton defensemen and nailed his 21st goal on the year. Brian Marchment was given an assist.
The Oilers rebounded with an Alexander Selivanov power play strike past San Jose's Steve Shields, who played a stirring game through two periods. Despite being mugged and once tripped up by Edmonton skaters, Shields made plenty of stoic, highlight-caliber saves. That was, until the final seven minutes of the ensuing period.
The Sharks, along with Shields, had effectively stymied the Oilers until Edmonton stunned them with two consecutive goals, each within 45 seconds of each other.
At 13:47 of the third period, Alexander Selivanov's fiery shot on goal was guided into the net by his teammate, Murray, who was tripped up in Shields' crease. Though disputed, the goal stood, tying the game at 2-2.
The revved-up Oilers ravenously seized the puck on a couple of San Jose turnovers in their own zone, and scored again at 14:32 as Todd Marchant jumped on a backnet pass and tallied the first of his two goals on the evening.
The Sharks, baffled, but not out of the game, returned the favor at 17:02 by tying things once again as Alex Korolyuk nudged his way through traffic and fired a wrist shot over Tommy Salo's kneepad, which had only temporarily trapped the puck.
San Jose then went up 4-3 at 19:00 as Mike Ricci fought off four forechecks to brilliantly work his way towards the net and slip one past Salo. As quickly as San Jose Arena erupted in celebration, so too had they fallen impotent as Todd Marchant scored again for Edmonton at 19:42 on a backwards shot to give him his 13th for the year.
Edmonton rookie defenseman, Tom Poti, gave his team the win with 1:07 left in overtime. The Oilers cemented themselves into the 8th Western Conference playoff spot as the Calgary Flames were eliminated with a loss to Vancouver.
The Oilers' amazing comeback win was fueled by persistence, desire and 34 shots on goal.
Copyright©1999 The HockeyNut