Monday night match-up between the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks turned out to be a hard fought game with the Sharks winning 3-2. Once again Joe Thorton showed the Oilers why it's so important to have a centreman with size. The Oilers were absolutely schooled in the face-off dot losing 31-23. It seemed in the final period the Oilers couldn't win a single draw. One thing is clear, if Oiler fans want to see less of Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner need to work on the puck drop. The two players were a combined 7-14, there is no way the top six can sustain pressure if they don't win more face-offs.
On the brighter side, The Oilers defence played a solid game. Jeff Petry continues to impress; the pairing of Ladislav Smid and Petry contributed to sound defence and a few bone jarring hits. More importantly tonight's game had to be Ryan Whitney's best game this season. Ryan played a strong defensive game along with showing Oiler fans a past glimpse of the bullet he used to score his third goal of the year.
Recently the play of Whitney has left us wanting to say the least. Ryan himself has been disappointed with his play as of late. Since coming back from injury, Whitney has shown flashes of his old brilliance and at times looks reminiscent of Cam Barker. Tonight, Whitney was able to push past his struggles and played his best game of the season. Pairing with Nick Schultz will certainly help, what a difference it makes to have a partner who is always in position; whether it's for a defensive play or puck support. Schultz continues to surprise with his offensive outburst with his fourth assist as an Oiler.
The Sharks are currently battling for a playoff spot and played a game that they had no intention of losing. Give the Sharks credit, they kept the Oilers to the perimeter and the Sharks scored on the few chances they had. The Sharks did all the little things better.