The San Jose Sharks won't get to play in front of their home crowd until Thursday night, so as they prepare to take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight at Rexall Place, the team knows the importance of coming home to the San Jose fans triumphantly.
The Sharks (1-0-0) won their season opener in Calgary on Sunday, and they want to make it two in a row tonight against another Western Conference foe. The Oilers (1-0-0) won their opener on the road, too, beating Vancouver two days ago.
Perhaps the Edmonton win was more impressive, considering the Canucks' success the past two seasons. But that doesn't mean San Jose isn't thinking they can't win this game, of course.
The Sharks played a solid game themselves against the Flames, and they want to build on that victorious momentum going forward.
As San Jose forward Patrick Marleau noted after the win Sunday, "It's going to be a learning curve, a little bit of rust for all teams. You try and get those points as quick as possible, especially with a shortened season."
And that's exactly why the Sharks must feel the need to win, every time out. The urgency must be there every time the team takes the ice.
Emerging victorious despite that rust gives both teams a jump on others in the conference, of course. Edmonton and San Jose are just two of the six teams in the West that have perfect records after the first three days of the short season.
Anaheim, Chicago, Minnesota and St. Louis each have two wins apiece.
Obviously, only one of the teams tonight in Edmonton can join those four atop the conference standings. The Oilers haven't been in the postseason since reaching the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals and losing in Game 7 as the eighth seed from the West, but they have a solid blend of youth and experience on their roster this season.
The fact Edmonton was down 2-0 against the Canucks before rallying to beat the home team in the overtime shootout (final score was 3-2) just proves the Oilers are going to be a very tough out at home.
Last year, the Sharks were just 17-17-7 on the road, and Edmonton was barely better at home with an 18-17-6 mark.
San Jose has a very similar roster to the one they had last season, and in this short season, you can toss out a lot of statistical carryover from 2012.
So it's anyone's game tonight when the puck drops at 8:00 p.m. Mountain Time.