Sports

One point not enough for Sharks

EDMONTON -- They scored with 10.6 seconds to force an overtime and steal one point.

But don't think any of the Sharks were feeling particularly good about their opening-night performance Thursday after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

"We can't take very much from this game because I don't think we played nearly as good as we should have," said center Joe Thornton, who scored the last-minute goal and assisted on the other.

His coach agreed with that last point.

"The way we played in the preseason, I didn't expect us to fumble as many pucks as we did tonight," coach Ron Wilson said. "We just didn't move pucks and you get a little tentative if you've goofed with the puck a few times. Then you just start trying to make safe plays and safe is death on our team."

Not exactly what he would like to see from a team favored by many to bring the Stanley Cup to San Jose.

If anything, Wilson could take some consolation in the fact that his decision to move Patrick Marleau to left wing on Thornton's line paid off. It was Marleau who took Thornton's feed from behind the net and fired it past goalie Dwayne Roloson for the game's first goal 26 seconds into the third period.

As often happens when these teams meet, the game was equal parts speed and snippy. For two scoreless periods, the Oilers matched the Sharks stride for stride. And when it appeared the Sharks had beaten Roloson, the goal posts got in the way on shots by right wing Steve Bernier and rookie center Torrey Mitchell.

Once the Sharks did get a 1-0 lead, it lasted barely a minute. At 1:37, a cross-crease pass glanced off Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert's skate and eluded Evgeni Nabokov to make it 1-1. And 1:14 after that, a cannon blast by Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray trickled between Nabokov's pads, then settled in the crease before rookie defenseman Kyle Brodziak punched it into the net.

The Sharks, who had been 0-for-5 on the power play, got one last chance to tie when Souray was called for holding with 41.7 seconds left. Thornton cruised in the circle to Roloson's left, hesitated, then sent the puck sailing over Roloson's outstretched glove.

The Sharks outshot the Oilers 3-2 in the overtime, but neither team came that close to scoring. In the shootout, only Sharks center Joe Pavelski and Oilers center Robert Nilsson scored among each team's first three shooters. Nabokov stopped right wing Ales Hemsky and center Marty Reasoner, while Roloson stoned Jonathan Cheechoo and Ryane Clowe. Roloson finished with 28 saves and Nabokov had 23.

In the tie-breaking frame, Marleau shot wide and Oilers center Jarret Stoll angled it off the post and into the net.

For weeks now, one prognosticator after another has made San Jose the favorite to win the Stanley Cup this spring.

Sports Illustrated. ESPN's Barry Melrose. EA Sports. Even three of the four writers in Thursday's Edmonton Journal predicted a Stanley Cup parade in San Jose.

They still have 81 chances and a host of playoff games to prove the experts right, but for one night at least, they couldn't.

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