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.”
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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.”