Sharks

Sharks rival Drew Doughty doesn't think Brent Burns deserves Norris Trophy

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APUSATSI

Sharks rival Drew Doughty doesn't think Brent Burns deserves Norris Trophy

We're down to two weeks remaining in the NHL season, and there's still plenty left to be determined.

Only five of what will be a grand total of 16 playoff spots have been clinched, and the races for many of the other 11 are likely to come down to the final days of the season. The same can be said for certain individual award races.

The former of those types of races doesn't really apply to the Sharks. They've already clinched a playoff spot and barring something crazy, they likely will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round.

As for the award races, there's still plenty at stake and how certain players finish their respective individual seasons could prove to be the deciding factor in who goes home with the hardware and who will have to wait at least another year.

Both San Jose's Brent Burns and Calgary's Mark Giordano have been jostling back and forth for pole position in the race for the Norris Trophy -- given to the league's top defenseman -- practically all year long. And it appears they'll finish it that way, as well.

One former Norris Trophy winner -- Los Angeles' Drew Doughty -- was asked his thoughts on the current race ahead of the Kings' game in Calgary on Monday, and let's just say he didn't mince words when it came to evaluating Burns' candidacy.

Burns currently leads the Sharks and all NHL defensemen with 77 points -- one more than he had in 2016-17 when he won his first Norris. Giordano, meanwhile, ranks second among all NHL defensemen with 72 points. Burns has played in two more games than Giordano so far this season, but his 1.03 points per game still rank slightly ahead of Giordano's 0.99.

Giordano's Flames are the odds-on favorite to finish with the most points of any Western Conference team, though, and that could certainly work in his favor in such a close race.

[RELATED: Sharks need better goaltending with playoffs around corner]

Meanwhile, Doughty's Kings are currently dead last in the Western Conference, 10 points behind the next-closest team. Any realistic shot at the playoffs went out the window a long time ago, and Doughty himself is on pace for his fewest points in a season in which he played more than 48 games.

Doughty has a Norris and a couple of Stanley Cups to his resume, so his comments can't be completely disregarded. But that sure sounds like sour grapes from a frustrated veteran towards a longtime division rival, which -- given the history between the Sharks and Kings -- shouldn't really come as a surprise.

Sharks' Peter DeBoer has no update on Joe Pavelski injury after Game 7

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AP

Sharks' Peter DeBoer has no update on Joe Pavelski injury after Game 7

SAN JOSE -- Sharks coach Peter DeBoer had "no update medically" on injured captain Joe Pavelski after San Jose's 5-4 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.

With 10:47 remaining in the third period of the final game of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, Pavelski was helped off the SAP Center ice after hitting his head on the ice. Pavelski collided awkwardly with Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny, moments after his teammate, Cody Eakin, shoved the Sharks captain following a face-off in the Sharks' offensive zone.

DeBoer was asked if Pavelski needed to be hospitalized, but he said he did not know if the Sharks forward left the arena after the collision. Pavelski's series ended with four points in seven games. He played the majority of the series with a shield on the lower half of his face, after scoring a goal with his face in the Sharks' Game 1 win over the Golden Knights.

In the immediate aftermath, Eakin was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. The Sharks trailed 3-0 at that point, and DeBoer said alternate captains Joe Thornton and Logan Couture spoke up right away.

"The leadership's the best I've ever been around," DeBoer said in his postgame press conference. "Joe goes down, Joe Thornton immediately is talking to the guys, 'Let's get three goals here on this power play.' He actually said that, and we got four."

While Thornton implored his teammates to take advantage of the penalty in Pavelski's absence, the SAP Center crowd initially booed the Golden Knights following the collision. The boos turned to stunned silence as Pavelski was attended to, but the Sharks needed just seven seconds to re-energize them when Couture put San Jose on the board.

"They helped us early, too, when we score the first goal," Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said of the crowd, "and pushed us to tie it up."

The crowd got louder when Hertl halved the Vegas lead with another power-play goal. They were louder still when Couture scored his second of the evening, and arguably at their loudest when Kevin Labanc capped off a four-points-in-four-minutes stretch with his second goal of the series to give the Sharks their first lead of the evening -- and the first lead change from any deficit in the series.

"Once we got that fourth goal, the whole building just erupted," Labanc said.

The Sharks had come back without their captain, but their 4-3 lead was erased 47 seconds shy of a Game 7 regulation victory. Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault tied the score with Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pulled.

When the Sharks returned to the locker room before the extra session, Hertl said the team focused on the positives.

"We [said], 'Hey, guys -- what we just did is amazing,’ “ Hertl recalled. "We're losing 3-0, come back. Let's finish it. We don't want to play last game of the season. And everybody stepped up."

That included, as Hertl noted, game-winning goal-scorer Barclay Goodrow, who sent the Golden Knights packing with 1:41 remaining in overtime. His second goal of the series came on his second shift of overtime.

[RELATED: Watch wild Sharks-Vegas Game 7 end on Goodrow's OT goal]

That goal capped off the Sharks' historic comeback, and San Jose ultimately responded to the loss of its captain with a win to keep its season alive. DeBoer said he didn't need to push many buttons, and credited leaders such as Couture and Thornton for kick-starting the victory.

"I'm very fortunate as a coach to be around people like that," DeBoer said. "You don't have to say a lot. They're driving the bus."

The Sharks will open their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday at SAP Center. San Jose will not practice Wednesday, but all eyes will be on Pavelski's health once the team returns to the ice.

Hertl and Labanc sounded optimistic that Pavelski will be able to join them at some point in the series, but what the Sharks did in his absence soon won't be forgotten.

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.”