EDMONTON — With their first playoff berth in more than a decade already secured, the Edmonton Oilers now seem to have their sights set even higher.
Patrick Maroon scored a pair of goals as the Edmonton Oilers took over sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
"This is playoffs for us. We are going to be playing these teams eventually, whether it is the first round, second round, third round, whatever," Maroon said.
"We have to continue to be in their face and try to find ways to win and make them not want to come here and play us. That is what we are set up to do. We want to make them scared and make sure they know that we are a good hockey team."
Connor McDavid also scored for the Oilers (43-25-9), who have won four in a row and eight of their last nine games. Edmonton is one point back of Anaheim for first in the Pacific.
"You want to play these games heading into the playoffs," McDavid said. "Those meaningful games. We're ramping it up, and we feel pretty good about our game right now.
"It's a good time to be an Oiler."
Jannik Hansen and Joe Pavelski responded for the Sharks (43-27-7), who have lost seven of their last eight and now sit third in the Pacific.
Hansen said that despite the loss, he feels the Sharks are starting to round back into form.
"You always debate that. (Would) you rather play like crap and win or do you want to play good and lose?" he said. "We're obviously getting closer to the playoffs here. We need to have our game in the right spot. The last two games have been a whole lot better than the previous six."
San Jose didn't take long to get on the scoreboard, as Hansen chipped a rebound over Oilers goalie Cam Talbot just 61 seconds into the game.
Edmonton tied it up midway through the first frame when McDavid made a perfect pass to give Maroon a shot into a wide-open net behind Sharks goalie Martin Jones, who made 19 saves in the loss. With assists on the play, both McDavid and Leon Draisaitl extended their points streaks to nine games apiece, and McDavid became the first player in the NHL to hit 90 points this season.
McDavid added to his points total with a short-handed goal with 2:32 left in the first period, dancing past Patrick Marleau and beating Jones with a backhand for his 28th goal of the season.
After a scoreless second period, the Oilers went up 3-1 eight minutes into the third when Maroon tipped a Kris Russell shot past Jones for his 27th goal of the season.
The Sharks got back into the game with six minutes left as Pavelski deflected a shot past Talbot for his 29th, but couldn't complete the comeback as Talbot stood his ground, ending up with 38 saves.
The Sharks are right back at it on Friday, facing the Flames in Calgary. Edmonton next plays host to the Ducks in a battle for first place in the Pacific on Saturday.
Notes: It was the fourth of five meetings between the two teams this season. The Sharks won two of the first three games. The Oilers will play in San Jose on April 6th… San Jose forward Logan Couture missed his second game after taking a puck to the face in a game against Nashville and is not on the team's road trip… McDavid became the first player aged 20 or younger to hit 90 points in a season since Steven Stamkos in 2009-2010.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press