San Jose’s 10th win of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs was among their most exciting and unexpected. They required a tying goal with less than a minute left in regulation, and a winning goal in overtime on what will undoubtedly become one of the most controversial squences of the playoffs.
Regardless, here are some thoughts about the Sharks’ 2-1 series lead.
Erik Karlsson's big game
Erik Karlsson scored first and last for San Jose on Wednesday night. The two goals were his first of 2019 -- not just the playoffs of this year, but of the entire calendar year. Most of the regular season Karlsson had been hampered with injury.
Although the offensive minded defenseman had contributed his hand in plenty of assists of this postseason, he had yet to find the back of the net since December 29th.
Joe Thornton (4) now has more goals in these playoffs than any other in his career. That’s hard to believe. Even a traditional pass-first superstar would have found a way to score more than a couple goals in some of his previous extended postseasons, right? But apparently not.
Also hard to believe: Wednesday night was Thornton’s first multi-goal playoff game in his 21 NHL seasons. It was such a rebound, and such a statement for Jumbo in contrast to Game 2 where his line was unproductive and criticized for a couple defensive miscues.
No comments necessary, he let his play do the talking, including assisting on Couture’s tying goal with 56 seconds left.
Logan Couture can't be stopped
Speaking of Logan Couture: two goals in the “Pavelski Payback”, a hat trick in Round 2, and now this huge spark in the Western Conference final.
Sure, Couture is running away in the quantity of playoff tallies (14 and counting). But the timeliness of his scoring is even more valuable than the league-leading amount.
What about that second period, allowing four goals on 13 shots? San Jose reverted to some more defensive mistakes in the middle frame - losing a 3-1 lead and all the momentum that came with it. Those are areas to clean up for the Sharks, and would have been the main reason they lost.
Bu those miscues were constrained to just one period, and overall Martin Jones put up another winning effort.
Both sides have legitimate gripes with officiating in Game 3. In terms of questionable calls: the lack of an overtime “hand pass” by Timo Meier can be countered by lacks of whistles on David Perron and Sammy Blais. Perron had flung an earlier puck over the glass, which (somehow) did not result in penalty, and Blais shouldered Justin Braun in the head on what should have been an infraction (and still might end up being a suspension).
What we’re seeing in these playoffs are almost every team impacted by unpopular officiating, it’s just that in the case of Game 3, the Sharks took their hits first, and caught their breaks late.