Editor’s note: Sports Uncovered, the newest podcast from NBC Sports, will shine a fresh light on some of the most remarkable moments in sports. The fourth episode tells the story of the "Marathon on Ice" between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Of the four major sports, the NHL has the most exciting postseason structure.
Why? Because nothing compares to playoff overtime hockey.
You know when it starts, but have no clue when it will end. For every quick finish, there seems to be a marathon conclusion. Often times, teams will play the equivalent of multiple games within the same contest. Prevail, and it's sheer jubilation. Lose, and it hurts twice as much.
The Sharks have experienced their fair share of both sides of that coin. Since Doug Wilson took over as GM prior to the start of the 2003-04 season, San Jose has qualified for the playoffs 15 times and the Sharks' 30 Stanley Cup Playoff rounds over that span are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the most in the NHL.
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Here are the Sharks' five best playoff overtime moments throughout franchise history:
5. Ray Whitney stuns the Flames
Following a lockout-shortened regular season in which the Sharks went 19-25-4, San Jose entered the postseason tied for the fewest points (42) of any playoff team, setting up a matchup with the Pacific Division-winning Calgary Flames. The underdog Sharks got off to a tremendous start in the series, stealing each of the first two games at the Saddledome in Calgary. However, the Flames returned the favor by outscoring the Sharks 15-6 over the next two games in San Jose and then moved within one game of advancing with a 5-0 shutout in Game 5.
The Sharks, however, would not be denied.
Facing elimination at home in Game 6, Ray Whitney provided an insurance goal -- his first of the series -- midway through the third period to secure an eventual 5-3 victory. Then, the series transitioned back to Calgary for a winner-take-all Game 7, and Whitney played the role of the hero.
After a scoreless first overtime, Whitney deflected a Sergei Makarov shot past Flames goalie Trevor Kidd less than two minutes into the second. Game over. Series over. First-ever overtime series-clincher in Sharks franchise history.
4. Jumbo goes for a slide
Despite winning the Pacific Division in 2010-11, the Sharks faced a Los Angeles Kings team in the first round of the playoffs that had earned just seven fewer points than them during the regular season. The Sharks ultimately prevailed in a tightly-contested series that featured not one, not two, but three overtime results. All of them went in San Jose's favor, and the final one ended the series altogether.
After Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi came up in the clutch in Games 1 and 3, respectively, the Sharks had an opportunity to close out the series in Game 6 on the Kings' home ice. San Jose held a 3-2 lead midway through the third period, but Los Angeles evened things up with a power-play goal and ultimately sent the game to OT.
Just over two minutes into the extra period, Setoguchi fired a pass to Patrick Marleau in the slot. Marleau fanned, but the puck took a fortuitous bounce off to the left side of the net, where Joe Thornton had been fighting for positioning. In one continuous motion, Thornton made a 180-degree turn and slapped the puck into the open net, ending the game and the series.
It was arguably the biggest goal of Thornton's decorated career, and he celebrated accordingly by sliding on his behind into a crowd of teammates at center ice.
3. Hertl's big moment
It didn't take long for the Sharks and Golden Knights to establish a rivalry. In Vegas' expansion season, it's Cinderella story included a second-round series victory over San Jose. A year later, that defeat surely still was fresh in the Sharks' minds.
They don't like each other. Not even a little bit. Which makes the playoff series between the two teams all the tenser. For the Sharks, it didn't get much tenser than facing elimination heading into Game 6 in Sin City.
Logan Couture provided a brief settling moment when he gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with nine seconds remaining in the first period. Vegas' Jonathan Marchessault then spoiled things -- get used to it -- by tying things up in the second period. Neither team scored in the third -- or the first overtime, for that matter.
Then, in the second OT, it appeared like all was lost. Barclay Goodrow took a slashing penalty midway through, putting the Golden Knights on the power play. Looks can be deceiving, however, and they were. Marc-Edouard Vlasic collected a loose puck in the defensive zone and found Tomas Hertl near center ice. In a developing 1-on-2, Hertl outraced one Golden Knight and used the other as a screen while firing a wicked wrist shot past San Jose nemesis Marc-Andre Fleury.
Somehow, it wasn't the Sharks' biggest OT goal in the series.
2. Goodrow finishes off the comeback
For all of the heroics Hertl provided in Game 6, the fun times were short-lived. Vegas scored a goal in each of the first two periods of Game 7, and then took a commanding 3-0 lead on Max Pacioretty's goal 3:36 into the third. It was as bleak as things got for San Jose.
Well, until captain Joe Pavelski started bleeding from the head while lying motionless on the ice. At that point, the Sharks were dealing with much more than the scoreboard. And, boy, did they rise to the occasion.
Vegas' Cody Eakin was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking. What happened next was the single-greatest powerplay in NHL playoff history.
Seven seconds into the powerplay, Couture got San Jose on the board. Forty-nine seconds later, Hertl pulled the Sharks within one. Two minutes and 44 seconds after that, Couture tied things up. Twenty-eight seconds later, Kevin Labanc blew the roof off of SAP Center, putting San Jose up 4-3.
It was the single-greatest powerplay in NHL playoff history, but once again, Marchessault played the spoiler. His goal with 47 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score and sent the series into a decisive overtime. This time, however, the Sharks didn't require a second OT period.
In the second minute of play, Erik Karlsson intercepted a puck near center ice, entered the offensive zone and made a great pass to Goodrow, who was driving toward the net. Goodrow received the puck on his backhand, corralled it with his forehand and drove across the mouth of the crease. His shot beat Fleury on the far side, completing the greatest comeback in NHL playoff history.
1. Donskoi stands alone
For all of the playoff success the Sharks have experienced, they've still yet to achieve the ultimate prize. San Jose made its first-ever Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2015-16 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Joonas Donskoi provided the highest point of the journey in Game 3.
After Pittsburgh prevailed 2-1 in overtime on home ice in Game 2, the Sharks returned the favor in Game 3. After both sides scored a goal each in the first period, the Penguins scored one late in the second and Joel Ward tied it up for San Jose midway through the third.
With just under eight minutes remaining in the first OT, Donskoi corralled the puck deep in Pittsburgh's zone. He and Chris Tierney orchestrated a give-and-go, resulting in Donskoi receiving the puck behind the Penguins' net. As he skated out towards the front of the net, Donskoi turned and quickly shot an odd-angle wrister past Penguins goalie Matt Murray, in what amounted to the first-ever and only Stanley Cup Final overtime goal in Sharks franchise history thus far.
Unfortunately, San Jose went on to lose the series four games to two.