The series between the Sharks and Oilers was a tough one, but the upstart Edmonton club won the respect of the experienced San Jose team and proved their mettle as a reputable opponent.
It wasn’t an easy series for the Oilers, who were shelled 7-0 in Game Four. San Jose actually outscored Edmonton in the series overall, but the victors picked up wins when they mattered most and built on back-to-back shutouts in Game Two and Game Three.
Cam Talbot was often stellar for the Oilers. With his win on Saturday, he became the seventh goalie in Oilers history to collect four wins in a playoff series. That puts him in the books with names like Curtis Joseph, Tommy Salo, Grant Fuhr, Bill Ranford, Andy Moog, and Dwayne Roloson.
Many teams with the collective age of the Oilers would’ve folded after such a battering, but Connor McDavid pulled his club together and got the job done.
After a scoreless first period in Saturday’s deciding Game Six, the Oilers opened things up with two goals in the middle stanza. Leon Draisatl and Anton Slepyshev both pulled off breakaway goals and the game looked to have cracked wide open. With his goal, Slepyshev became just the second Russian-born NHLers to score a playoff game-winner for the Oilers. Boris Mironov was the first.
But the Sharks seized control again and Patrick Marleau scored a third period goal to make things close.
Edmonton had to sit on the lead after that and eventually sealed the deal when McDavid popped it into the open net for the 3-1 win.
This is the first playoff series win for the Oilers since 2006 and it illustrated a team in control. They were able to do a lot of the little things well and proved a mentally durable team, which was something few people expected.
The reputation of the Oilers as a young team is intact, but this is one young team not content to win a participation award. Their performance against the Sharks was a statement of intent and it validated Edmonton as a team worth taking seriously.
It’s clear the Ducks will have to do just that.