Sharks

How Sharks rallied for Joe Pavelski, won 'craziest game' they've seen

How Sharks rallied for Joe Pavelski, won 'craziest game' they've seen

SAN JOSE -- To say the Sharks' future was bleak 9:13 minutes into the third period of Game 7 is quite the understatement.

They were down three goals to the Vegas Golden Knights and on the brink of Stanley Cup playoff elimination. Their captain, Joe Pavelski, had to be helped off the ice by three teammates after a cross-check left him in a heap on the ice. San Jose was about to go on an extended power play with its second season on the line, but it already had gone 0 of 4 on the man advantage in the game at that point.

What happened next was the kind of thing a Hollywood script writer might think up and then chuck to the side because it sounds too improbable: The Sharks scored four power-play goals and eventually won 5-4 in overtime Tuesday night at SAP Center.

“The group rallied,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told the press afterward. “Joe Thornton spoke up. Logan Couture. I think they saw a guy they love and respect in some distress, and wanted to do what they could to help the situation.”

Team Teal scored its four power-play goals in 4 minutes and 1 second, becoming just the second team in NHL history to overcome a three-goal deficit in the third period of a Game 7 and setting a franchise record for the fastest four goals scored. It was the perfect set-up for San Jose’s thunderous victory that closed the first-round series and allowed the team to advance.

“That’s the craziest game I’ve ever seen,” DeBoer admitted. “I think we’ll talk about that one for a long time here.”

The players echoed those sentiments.

“It has to be the top,” veteran Joe Thornton said. “For everybody in the whole building, for everybody witnessing, it was the best game I’ve ever been part of. Period.”

After San Jose completely change the tone with its four power-play goals, Vegas found the equalizer with just 47 seconds left in regulation, sending the game into overtime. The pace was relentless through extra hockey as both teams -- who already had gone to double overtime in Game 6 -- desperately tried to end the other’s playoff run. There were close calls on both ends of the ice, as goalies Martin Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury turned away multiple looks at the doorstep.

That is, until Barclay Goodrow grabbed a feed from Erik Karlsson and found room to beat Fleury for the game-winner, unleashing what probably was one of the longest goal horns ever sounded at SAP Center.

“To be honest, I can’t really remember what just happened,” Goodrow said during his post-game media scrum. “It was a surreal moment. Definitely the biggest goal of my career.”

[RELATED: Sharks-Avalanche second-round series preview]

With that career-making goal and the win, Goodrow and the Sharks erased a three-games-to-one deficit to claim the series with their Pacific Division rivals. Not a bad response for a team rallying behind its injured captain.

“The boys, they got together and said, ‘This is for Pavs,’ ” Thornton said with a tinge of sadness in his voice. “We love him, and it was just a matter of will, and we built that one for him.”

Said DeBoer: “This is a special group that way. We’ve rallied like that all year, at different points. Even early in the series here, we were down 3-0 [in Game 2], people have written them off. Or down 3-1 in the series. There’s a lot of belief in there.”

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Sharks legend Patrick Marleau might have had his last decent chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL restart. Hopefully he gets another opportunity, because it ain't happening this year.

The fifth-seeded Penguins were stunned and upset by the 12-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round after the Habs advanced to the playoffs with a 3-1 series victory on Friday. Pittsburgh lost Game 1 and was never able to recover, thanks in large part to Montreal goalie Carey Price.

The Penguins scored just eight goals in the series, none of which were deposited by Marleau. In fact, the long-time Shark didn't record a single point across the four games. The Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline in exchange for what is now confirmed to be a 2021 third-round draft pick, as San Jose wanted to give him an opportunity to check that last box on his career résumé.

Marleau now will become an unrestricted free agent. It has been widely presumed that if he indeed returns for a 23rd NHL season, it might come in a third go-around with the Sharks. San Jose finished dead last in the Western Conference this season, but the Sharks' record was largely impacted by injuries and they certainly could return to the playoffs next year.

Really, it would only be fitting if Marleau ended his career in teal.

As for the Sharks, the qualifying round has gone nearly as well as they could have hoped for. Of the four Pacific Division teams that were involved, only the Edmonton Oilers failed to advance.

Due to the wacky 2020 NHL draft lottery, each team eliminated in the qualifying round has a 12.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick. Whichever team lands it is widely expected to use it on consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.

[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl 'finally back' on ice after tearing ACL, MCL]

So, there's an 87.5 percent chance -- barring trades -- that Lafreniere won't immediately end up in the Sharks' division.

Given the season they had, they'll take any win they can get.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl 'finally back' on ice after January knee injury

Sharks' Tomas Hertl 'finally back' on ice after January knee injury

It's not clear when the Sharks will play next.

One star took a big step towards rejoining them when they do.

Tomas Hertl posted a video Wednesday on his Instagram of him skating in his native Czech Republic, writing that he was "[f]inally back" on the ice.

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Finally back 🏒 @filipchlapik @hertlik89

A post shared by Tomas Hertl (@hertlik48) on

Hertl, 26, tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in January and missed the final 18 games of the Sharks' season before it was suspended -- and, ultimately, ended -- due to the coronavirus pandemic. The center injured his knee on Jan. 29 against the Vancouver Canucks, just four days after playing in his first All-Star Game. 

The 2012 first-round pick was one of the lone bright spots in the Sharks' otherwise dreary season, scoring 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 48 games. San Jose generated 56.76 percent of the expected goals and 54.38 percent of the high-danger chances with Hertl on the ice at full strength, according to Natural Stat Trick, and Hertl himself accounted for his highest rate of 5-on-5 expected goals (0.95 per hour) of any season other than his rookie year.

Hertl said in May that he expected to be ready to start the 2020-21 season, no matter when that is.

"I want to be there for my team, and that’s why I have been working every day for four months even with the season so far away," Hertl said at the time. "My next goal is getting back and being better than before. I know I can do it. I have to give it everything I can to get back.”

[RELATED: Thornton reportedly could play in Switzerland before NHL season]

Hertl's return to the ice marks an offseason milestone for the forward, who's signed through 2022.

He and his wife, Aneta, announced last month that they're expecting a baby in November.