Leon Draisaitl moved closer to a 50-goal season, but his Edmonton Oilers lost 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks Thursday night at Rogers Place.
It was the final home game of the season for the Oilers, who are 0-4-1 in their last five.
With the Oilers shorthanded early, Draisaitl stole the puck in the neutral zone and went in on a breakaway. He beat Aaron Dell five-hole with a backhand for his 48th goal of the season. Marcus Sorensen converted a pass from Joe Thornton to tie it.
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The assist pushed Thornton past Steve Yzerman into eighth on the NHL’s all-time assists list with 1,064.
“I believe deep down it means a lot to him,” Thornton’s teammate Logan Couture said. “I’m pretty sure that’s why he wears 19. Where we grew up in that part of Ontario you’re either a Steve Yzerman superfan or a Joe Sakic superfan, or someone on the Leafs. I didn’t like the Leafs so, I was for Steve Yzerman or Joe Sakic and I’m pretty sure he was Stevie Y. It’s pretty incredible that he was able to pass him.”
Brent Burns scored off a face-off 1:12 later, and the Sharks were up 2-1 after one.
“You certainly can’t fault the effort,” Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I thought some of the defencemen, Nurse and Klefbom in particular, played really well tonight, which is a good sign.”
Draisaitl scored again early in the second, sliding a shot from the right side past Dell. With 1:12 left in the first, San Jose scored off a face-off again. Gustav Nyquist deflected Burns’ point shot to make it 3-2 Sharks after two.
Draisaitl had a couple of chances for his 50th in the third but was turned away by Dell.
“That’s something special and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get that chance again, so I’m going to try to make the most of it and I really appreciate the guys trying to set me up,” Draisaitl said.
“You see him coming down a couple of times and he’s on the odd-man rush or whatever, and yeah, he’s not passing this one, he’s going for it,” Aaron Dell said. “So you hope he’s thinking the same thing. It’s a weird game kind of, but it’s fun.”
The Airdrie product says he didn’t want to let the Edmonton forward reach the milestone against him.
“That was my biggest goal of the night. I was stopping him from getting there.”
“We all want to see him achieve that,” Oilers forward Milan Lucic said. “As you saw in the third period, everyone was looking for him so I’m sure he’ll get his chances Saturday night as well.”
The Oilers, 34-38-9, will end the regular season in Calgary on Saturday.
With files from 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston and Brenden Escott
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