SAN JOSE — It was billed as a battle of the talented rookies, but it would have been nice for the Edmonton Oilers if someone other than Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle generated some offence Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.
The two rookies made a strong case for themselves against the Sharks and their freshman sensation, Logan Couture, but were unable to carry the entire load for the Oilers in a 2-1 defeat.
The loss was the Oilers third straight against the Sharks this season.
Logan Couture and Dan Boyle scored for the Sharks, while Dustin Penner was awarded the goal for the Oilers, taking it away from Ryan Whitney, who thought he had scored his first goal of the season.
The only offence the Oilers were able to generate in the first period was through their two rising stars as Eberle had a couple of chances in front and Hall set up Sam Gagner on another.
To their credit, defensively the Oilers did well to keep the Sharks at bay, limiting their high-powered offence to just five shots in the opening frame.
In the second, Couture found his skating legs.
First, the NHL’s top scoring rookie first took the puck off Hall while killing a two-man penalty, raced down the ice and forced the Oilers winger to haul him down.
Later in the period, Couture converted a pass from Ryane Clowe on a two-on-one rush and roofed a shot over Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to open the scoring. The goal was Couture’s rookie-leading 18th of the season.
Despite the giveaway and the subsequent penalty, Hall had an otherwise strong period, setting up Tom Gilbert in the slot for a good opportunity earlier in the frame and keeping the Sharks defencemen back on their heels by taking the play to them at every opportunity.
Hall’s line was the only one to trouble the Sharks on the evening. The rest of the team seemingly spent their shifts chasing the Sharks all over their own end.
Eventually the Oilers succumbed to the pressure as the Sharks increased their lead on the power play, as Dan Boyle’s effort found its way through a sea of bodies in front and past Khabibulin.
Up to that point, the Oilers goaltender had done his part keeping the score respectable. His biggest save came on Dany Heatley on a cross-crease pass from Joe Thornton, sliding over to get a pad on the seemingly easy tap-in.
The Oilers made things interesting late in the third as Whitney appeared to score on a floater from the point that found the back of the net.
The Oilers defenceman had collected 24 assists this season without registering a goal.
However the goal was later awarded to Penner, who was deemed to have tipped it in front.