Sharks 2, Oilers 1

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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Patrick Marleau and the Sharks are off to another speedy playoff start.

The San Jose captain scored his eighth goal of the postseason and added an assist on Christian Ehrhoff’s go-ahead goal, leading the Sharks to a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night in Game 1 of the second-round series.

Rookie Milan Michalek had two assists and Vesa Toskala stopped 15 shots in his fifth consecutive victory for the Sharks, who took control of the series opener with a one-sided second period featuring Ehrhoff’s first career playoff goal.

San Jose then hung on against another late-game surge by the eighth-seeded Oilers, who thrived on the road and in tight games in their first-round upset of Detroit, capped by their four-goal third period in the clincher.

The clubs won’t have much time to dwell on this one: They’re back in action for Game 2 on Monday night in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is in Edmonton on Wednesday night.

Dwayne Roloson made 28 saves for the Oilers, who went scoreless in the final 57:27 after Jaroslav Spacek’s early power-play goal. Edmonton twice grazed the post behind Toskala, but was held to fewer than two goals for the first time in the postseason.

San Jose knocked off the fourth-seeded Nashville Predators in the first round, while the Oilers upset the President’s Trophy-winning Red Wings. With four upsets in the Western Conference’s topsy-turvy playoff openers, the Sharks were handed home ice for the second round and the conference finals, if they can repeat their 2004 appearance.

These clubs were evenly matched in the regular season, with their young rosters and speed-based styles making for entertaining hockey. The opener was just such a game – but the Sharks’ big shot advantage and aggressive play turned it into San Jose’s 13th victory in its last 15 games.

But Spacek scored a power-play goal just 2:33 in, and Edmonton’s team speed quickly caught the Sharks’ attention. San Jose tied it 5 minutes later on a blast from the slot by Marleau, who had a hat trick while scoring seven goals in the five-game first round.

Marleau also reclaimed the playoff goal lead from Ottawa’s Martin Havlat.

The Sharks completely dominated the second period, holding Edmonton to two shots while keeping the puck in the Oilers’ end for minutes at a time. San Jose’s forechecking did much of the work, with pesky forward Ville Nieminen playing an inspired game that included several big checks.

Ehrhoff, a German defenseman gaining coach Ron Wilson’s confidence with every game, scored his first career playoff goal on a needle-threading shot from the boards at the blue line, somehow finding the net’s top corner off a pass from Marleau.

The Oilers also failed to get a shot in the first 6 minutes of the third period, then couldn’t score on a power play when Joe Thornton was sent off for tripping Roloson. Edmonton pulled Roloson for the final 90 seconds, but got just one good chance.

Notes: The sellout crowd at the Shark Tank booed D Chris Pronger every time he touched the puck, a tradition since Pronger’s early days with the St. Louis Blues. … Edmonton LW Todd Harvey, who played for the Sharks from 1999-04, was a scratch. San Jose briefly sent Harvey to the minors in late 2003, then didn’t attempt to re-sign him in the offseason. … Thornton and Edmonton’s Sergei Samsonov were teammates in Boston from 1997 until this season. … Roloson’s mask came flying off when he stopped a shot by Scott Thornton in the third period. Roloson made his Edmonton debut in San Jose back on March 9, stopping 31 shots in a 5-2 loss.

AP-ES-05-07-06 2239EDT

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