Sharks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in unreal 5-4 Game 7 overtime win over Vegas

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in unreal 5-4 Game 7 overtime win over Vegas

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks' Stanley Cup playoff series with the Vegas Golden Knights was full of drama, no doubt. But there was absolutely nothing more dramatic than how Team Teal stormed back from a three-goal, third-period deficit and kept their season alive.

The Pacific Division rivals' contentious first-round series finally came to an end Tuesday night, as Barclay Goodrow scored with 1:41 left in overtime to finish the Sharks' 5-4 win in the decisive Game 7.

Here are three takeaways from the historic game at SAP Center, which will host Game 1 of the second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night. Puck drop is TBD.

Power play finally makes a huge impact

This was an area where San Jose had struggled throughout the series, and part of the reason it trailed three games to one. So when the Sharks received back-to-back opportunities early in the first period and didn’t find the back of the net, questions instantly began to arise as to whether those two missed chances would cost the Sharks in the end.

In the third period, though, the Sharks were given a five-minute power play after captain Joe Pavelski was taken out of the game by Vegas' Cody Eakins in a gruesome scene. It was exactly what the Sharks needed to get back into the game, no matter how late it was, as they scored four consecutive goals during the major penalty and briefly held a 4-3 lead.

Martin Jones write chapter in redemption story

OK, the tying goal the Sharks goalie gave up late in the third period wasn’t good at all. But you can't deny that for all the flack Jones received at the beginning of the season, boy, did he turn it around, making 34 saves in Game 7.

Jones continued his strong play from Games 5 and 6 into the last game of the series, and he easily was the Sharks' best player in the final two contests. The only thing missing was the team in front of him giving him some goal support for the majority of Game 7, which made things worse when he let in Vegas' third goal for a 3-0 deficit.

Things looked extra bleak because Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (43 saves) played a magnificent game through the majority of the evening. But that only made the Sharks' comeback even more amazing when they got four pucks past him in less than a period.

Logan Couture got angry, then got even

Yes, the whole Sharks team was upset when Pavelski had to be helped off the ice in the third period. But absolutely nobody channeled that anger into success quite like No. 39, as he scored two goals during San Jose’s massive third-period comeback.

The Sharks had many heroes during the seven-game series -- Jones turning things around late in the series, Tomas Hertl scoring the big overtime goal in Game 6, and so on. But when we look back on this series, Couture set up everything for Goodrow to have the opportunity to score in overtime.

Couture scored six games and added two assists for eight total points in the seven games against Vegas.

Sharks goalie Martin Jones aims to prove himself yet again this season

martinjonesus.jpg
USATSI

Sharks goalie Martin Jones aims to prove himself yet again this season

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks went 39-1 last season when allowing two goals or fewer. Scoring rarely was an issue for them, which meant many games were decided on their play without the puck.
 
“We scored a lot of goals, but unlike other years, where we relied on being tight defensively, those goals came at the expense of being a little looser defensively,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer recently said at training camp. “And they were getting different looks.”
 
Criticism of goals allowed thickened during the final stretch of the regular season, and fingers were pointed in two distinct places: Team defense and goaltending.
 
“I’m sure [Martin] Jones is the first guy to say he wishes he played better at times," Sharks captain Logan Couture said of his goalie. "But there were a lot of times we didn’t help him out. We gave up too much."
 
The plot thickened in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, when Vegas took Games 2, 3 and 4 by scoring goals early and often. The Golden Knights looked unstoppable on the scoreboard.

In retrospect, Jones believes he tried to do too much.
 
“You want to go out and make a difference," he said. "But as a goalie, you need to have more patience and let the game come to you. You can’t race out and make 30 saves in the first period. You have to take what comes to you.“ 
 
Facing elimination in Game 5, the Sharks turned their Achilles heel into a strong point.
 
“Breakaways, odd-man rushes, tap-in goals -- he didn’t have a chance,” Couture said. "I don’t know how we did it, but we flipped a switch, and buckled down after that."
 
Added DeBoer: “I know the group around him takes some responsibility for the ups and downs of last year. To his credit, he found a way. He dug himself out of that place where he wasn’t feeling great about his game.”   

[RELATED: Four players Sharks are counting on to take step forward]
 
The final 16 playoff games should clearly indicate what Jones -- who posted a career-worst .896 save percentage and 2.94 goals-against average in the regular season -- can do, especially in the most critical junctures. That must breed confidence in what the Sharks can accomplish this season, if they can support their goalie.
 
“I can tell you this,” DeBoer said confidently, “the group never wavered once, even at the lowest moments, about whether he could get the job done.”

Jonny Brodzinski's audition for Sharks roster spot off to good start

Jonny Brodzinski's audition for Sharks roster spot off to good start

SAN JOSE - When Jonny Brodzinski played on the Ontario Reign during the 2016-17 season, he regularly faced a San Jose Barracuda roster consisting of Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, and Marcus Sorensen -- among other names familiar to Sharks fans.

Now, the 26-year-old out of Minnesota is sporting the same teal sweater as the aforementioned players while the Sharks preseason gets underway. 

Heck, he and Sorensen are even playing on a line together to kick off training camp.

"I played against a lot of these guys, yeah," Brodzinski reflected after Tuesday evening's preseason game. "Played against a lot of them and now we're teammates. It's exciting."

The Sharks have roster spots to fill on offense and having a player with Brozinski's skillset could help fill out their forward attack. While Sharks' bench boss Peter DeBoer insisted he isn't penciling in his final roster just yet, he's impressed with what he sees from Brodzinski so far.

"He's got a great shot, he's got good speed, he works hard," DeBoer observed. "He's auditioning for some pretty big roles we have open here. He's one of a handful of guys here where tonight was the start of that audition."

The coach was right. Although Tuesday's contest against the Anaheim Ducks ended in a 4-3 loss, it did help kickstart observing the talents of San Jose's roster hopefuls. And Brodzinski's resume was on display. 

Following an NCAA career at St. Cloud State where he posted 112 points (64 goals, 48 assists) and a plus-42 -- and helped lead the Huskies to their first Frozen Four appearance in 2013-- Brodzinski spent four seasons with the Reign and occasionally got recalled to play for the Kings. The 6-foot-1 winger spent a lot of time traveling back and forth between the AHL and NHL as he developed his game, building himself up to be a regular goal-scorer.

That scoring consistency, mixed with the element of speed Brodzinksi demonstrated in Tuesday evening's game, could be one piece of the puzzle pieces the Sharks are looking for to bolster their bottom six.

Brodzinski may still be in the audition phase of his tenure in teal, but he's also getting some veteran guidance along the way. Playing wing opposite Sorensen also means he's spent the start of the preseason on a line with Joe Thornton. Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson said ahead of training camp how excited the organization was that No. 19 would be around for another season to help usher in the next wave of new players -- much like Thornton did with Sorensen last season. So far, Brodzinski is getting that exact opportunity.

"All of those guys, especially Joe, are pretty easy to play with," Brodzinski complimented. "He sees the ice really, really well."

This isn't to say the line combinations won't get mixed up at some point before the regular season starts. DeBoer isn't one to get too attached to combos and pairs, no matter what time of year it is. For the time being, though, Brozinski is trying to figure out how he can best contribute to that line.

[RELATED: Martin Jones aims to prove himself again]

"Those guys have a lot of chemistry already," he said of Thornton and Sorensen. "So, I'm just trying to mesh. Find the way that they play and try to acclimate my game as much as I can to the way they play.

"Now I just have to take this opportunity and run with it."