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Everybody take a breath.
The San Jose Sharks advanced out of the first round for the third time in four years and kept their hopes alive for a first-ever Stanley Cup in the most dramatic fashion possible with a 5-4 overtime victory in Tuesday’s Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Barclay Goodrow scored the winning goal but only after one of the most memorable third periods in NHL history.
Vegas appeared to be cruising to a straightforward victory with a 3-0 lead in the third period when the Sharks poured in four goals on a single power play following a major penalty and game misconduct from Cody Eakin. As if that weren’t enough, the Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault answered and forced overtime with a goal in the final minute of regulation.
Logan Couture scored two of the four power-play goals, while Tomas Hertl and Kevin Labanc added the others. Goaltender Martin Jones struggled with consistency but saved 34 of the 38 shots he faced to keep his team alive and set the stage for Goodrow’s winner.
Lucky Sharks Set to Be Playoff Fodder for Red-Hot Avs’ Offense
The Sharks deserve plenty of credit for their incredible comeback. It was one of those moments that will forever be remembered by the team’s fanbase regardless of how the rest of the playoffs unfold.
It also required plenty of luck.
Jesse Granger @JesseGranger_
Logan Couture ties the game 3-3 with 7:07 to play in the game.
I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.
The Golden Knights significantly outplayed the Sharks throughout almost the entire contest only to have an unfortunate set of circumstances unravel their efforts. San Jose’s Joe Pavelski fell backward and hit his head on the ice in a scary scene following a faceoff, and the officials reacted to the play by calling the game-turning cross-checking penalty on Eakin.
Though Eakin did shove Pavelski on the play that unfortunately led to injury, it should not have resulted in a major penalty and a game misconduct.
Pete Blackburn @PeteBlackburn
I….I don’t think that’s even anywhere near a five-minute major? A horrible result, but I mean it’s not like he viciously attacked him?
It was a completely bogus major penalty, but holy crap has SJ cashed this thing in.
Greg Wyshynski @wyshynski
Lost in all the Pavelski stuff is the fact that, for the second time in this series, the on-ice officials did not call a penalty during play only to figure one out later, both times penalizing Vegas.
The rest was history, as the Sharks scored two goals in the first minute of the power play and rode the pandemonium inside the home arena to the eventual victory. Yet, it was Marchessault’s answer in the final minute of regulation that was a sign of things to come more than San Jose’s dominance during the extended power play.
NHL on NBC @NHLonNBCSports
WHAT IS HAPPENING.
WE ARE TIED AGAIN.
#VGKvsSJS here: https://t.co/Cxfh9sXayp https://t.co/2gNgiswMAB
The Sharks defense and Jones struggled to establish a rhythm for much of the game and dealt with inconsistency throughout the series. Jones was pulled in Games 2 and 4 and allowed six goals in Game 3, which was a troubling development with the red-hot Colorado Avalanche on deck.
On Tuesday, William Karlsson started the scoring after the Golden Knights gained control from the Sharks defense in the offensive zone and buried a loose puck in front of the net. Max Pacioretty also provided what appeared to be insurance for Vegas in the third period when San Jose turned it over in a costly area and Jones was unable to corral a saveable shot.
NHL on NBC @NHLonNBCSports
Watch more here: https://t.co/Cxfh9sXayp https://t.co/V9QozqVH9N
Sharks fans were surely familiar with those scenes following their regular season.
For as effective as San Jose was on the offensive end (second in the league in goals per game), the team was pedestrian between the pipes and when attempting to establish control at the blue line. The Sharks were an ugly 21st in the league in goals against per game, which is not exactly befitting of a Stanley Cup contender.
Jones’ goals against average of 2.94 was the highest of his career, while his save percentage of 89.6 was the first time he finished below 90.
Goaltending and defensive play like that and what was on display for stretches against the Golden Knights will not be enough to outlast the Avalanche. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon combined for 17 points in a quick five-game series against the top-seeded Calgary Flames and come into the showdown with the Sharks spearheading an offense that scored 14 goals in its last three contests.
They should find plenty of success against Jones and San Jose’s beatable back end and control the series even as a wild-card team.
The Sharks will face the Avalanche in the second round after the Western Conference’s second wild card stunned the top-seeded Flames in the first round.