Sharks beat Oilers 3-2 in overtime in Game 1

Couture is the team's top two-way center, who would be counted on to match up with National Hockey League scoring leader Connor McDavid in this series if healthy.

FILE - At left, in a November 1, 2016, file photo, San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) skates to the puck against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period of an NHL hockey game, in Glendale, Ariz.

Couture's mouth and teeth were smashed in late March by an errant puck, but he returned Wednesday with a full-face cage.

San Jose escaped a poor start against the Oilers on Wednesday as Edmonton took its foot off the gas played a sloppy second half of the game, taking seven minor penalties to the Sharks' four. The Sharks lead the series 1-0.

"He's so fast, so skilled", forward Jannik Hansen said. "It was a nice pass by (Mark Lestestu), I saw the hole and shot and it went in".

"Other than that, you've just got to play those guys hard".

Brandon Nielson worked at a bar near Whyte Avenue during the Oilers' last playoff run and witnessed the 2006 riots. Thornton, who suffered a knee injury in early April against Vancouver, hopes to play through the injury as he did in the 2011 Western Conference Finals, when he had a separated shoulder.

"He was unbelievable", said captain Connor McDavid of Kassian.

The Sharks were 1-22-1 when trailing after two periods during the regular season and the Oilers were 29-2-1 when leading after two periods, but it didn't matter a lick in this one.

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The Rangers also see themselves as Stanley Cup contenders and are eager to erase the memory of last year's first-round exit. GM Don Sweeney said Carlo (upper body) is definitely a no go for Game 1 against Ottawa while Krug (lower body) is unlikely.

"We have to forget about the game we just played, put that win in the bank and replicate that effort on our end", Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. The two were in an unmarked auto when they responded to a call the night of February 25, 2015 reporting a man chasing another man with a knife. The Sharks played exceptionally well, and they deserved to win game one.

Though both Thornton and Couture have been skating at practice, no timetable is set for return.

The Sharks may have had a awful play-in to the playoffs, but if Wednesday night was any indication, the switch has been flipped.

The Oilers didn't do a great job of staying out of the box, but remained sharp on the penalty kill, limiting San Jose's chances and creating scoring opportunities of their own. They played in our zone.

"Guys might have been nervous the first game", the second-year star said. "There's a lot of newness to both organizations".

It was a pretty drastic turnaround for the Sharks, who had won just once in 25 games all season when trailing after two periods.

The Sharks made it to the Stanley Cup Final last season partly because their defensive awareness helped limit the effectiveness of scorers such as Los Angeles' Tyler Toffoli, Nashville's Filip Forsberg and St. Louis' Vladimir Tarasenko. San Jose was one for six with the man advantage while Edmonton was one for three. He broke Grant Fuhr's long-standing franchise wins record by recording 42 this season. Jones was tied for third with 65 starts despite struggling a bit down the stretch.

McDavid, 20, dominated the National Hockey League scoring race in his first full season, after losing much of his rookie campaign previous year to a cracked clavicle. Their core of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom have never appeared in a playoff game.

Could the Edmonton Oilers really reach the 2017 Stanley Cup Final?

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