EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Sharks don't always follow the script when they play one of the NHL's bottom feeders, but they did just that Friday night with a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers have been a team mired in self-analysis after the embarrassment of being shut out their past three games at Rexall Place and now reside in the NHL's basement. The last time they faced an opponent in that spot, the Sharks lost a 5-4 shootout decision to the Buffalo Sabres.
But against Edmonton, San Jose did what it needed to do and built a 3-0 lead on goals by Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau, with Joe Thornton earning an assist on two of them.
When Edmonton finally did score on a goal by Nail Yakupov at 12:48 of the second period to end its Rexall Place drought at 214:52 and avoid a fourth consecutive shutout, San Jose didn't let the Oilers get any closer, as backup netminder Alex Stalock stopped each of the 30 other shots he faced.
Thornton now has at least one point in each of his past seven games and is the NHL's assist leader with 20.
"The linemates are huge for me. Obviously I'm a passer, so they've got to be scoring," he said. "It just seems to be rolling so, yeah, I have a lot of confidence right now."
Only one of the goals came with Thornton's current linemates on the ice, but it was the prettiest as Tommy Wingels got the puck to Thornton, who then hit Hertl with a perfect pass as the rookie cruised across the crease for a quick redirect that gives him a team-leading 12 goals for the season.
"He gave me a good yell," Thornton said of his 20-year-old Czech linemate who speaks little English. That, however, wasn't a problem on this play. "No," Thornton said. "Just, 'Joe!' That's all he needs."
Most of the suspense after the Sharks had their 3-0 lead centered on the possibility of a fourth shutout loss at home for the Oilers.
At first it looked as if the goal-less streak would end in the second period when Ryan Smyth had a wraparound into an empty net but somehow missed at 7:14. Less than a minute later, Edmonton had a 3-on-1 break that was broken up by defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Finally, with Brad Stuart in the penalty box for cross-checking, Yakupov scored on a one-timer at 12:48 to end the Edmonton home drought.
Stalock, who improved his record to 3-0 in his first season as an NHL backup, said he didn't feel any letdown at the loss of a shutout.
"No, my biggest goal is to get a win for the team and give them a chance every night to get two points," Stalock said, adding that Yakupov "made a great play. Watching it on replay, he hit it right when it hit the ice and it was a heck of a shot."
The game was San Jose's third consecutive victory on a rigorous five-game trip in which it plays no consecutive games in the same time zone. And it showed that it may indeed have moved on from its winless streak in which it went 0-1-4.
"A win's a win. We'll take it," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "The games that we're playing and winning -- one in Calgary, one in Vancouver, one here -- it's nice to see that we've clamped down a little bit defensively."
Havlat played his first game this season Oct. 30 after recovering from offseason hip surgery. He had only 11:27 ice time in Thursday night's overtime win in Vancouver, and made no appearance on the stat sheet that registers everything from shots to hits to giveaways and takeaways.
"We talked a lot about being patient with him and letting him play his way into shape and his timing and all that type of stuff," McLellan said. "We've done that. Now it's about results."
Sharks (13-2-5) at Chicago (13-2-4),
4 p.m. CSNCA