Barclay Goodrow

NHL.com snubs Sharks-Golden Knights Game 7 as best game of 2010s

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NHL.com snubs Sharks-Golden Knights Game 7 as best game of 2010s

NHL.com named a Game 7 ending 5-4 and involving a three-goal comeback, two division rivals and an overtime winner as the best game of the 2010s.

It just wasn't the one with the Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights. 

NHL.com and NHL.com International staff members chose the Boston Bruins' Game 7 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference first-round series during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the game of the decade. In a 9:18 span, the Bruins erased a 4-1 deficit to force overtime and Patrice Bergeron scored the winner 6:05 into the extra frame. 

An epic comeback in a game between two "Original Six" rivals is, on paper, worthy of the crown. But Sharks-Golden Knights is more deserving. 

For one, San Jose and Vegas were much closer in terms of quality than Boston and Toronto. Yes, the Golden Knights jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the 2019 Western Conference first-round series and fewer standings points separated the Bruins and Maple Leafs (five) than the Sharks and Knights (eight). However, the 2013 Maple Leafs greatly benefited from the lockout-shortened 48 game schedule, making the playoffs despite being the NHL's worst puck-possession team.

The Sharks and Golden Knights, on the other hand, were both legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Both finished the regular season in the NHL's top three in terms of shot share and shot quality. Had Vegas beaten San Jose, it's likely the expansion franchise would have played in a second Western Conference final in as many years. 

What unfolded on the ice in the third period in Boston doesn't hold a candle to the third period in San Jose last April. Then-captain Joe Pavelski's head bled as the result of a fluky collision with Golden Knights forwards Paul Stastny and Cody Eakin, leading to a highly disputed five-minute major penalty. The Sharks then matched an NHL record with four power-play goals on the non-releasable penalty, nearly blowing the roof off SAP Center. 

A 3-0 deficit turned into a 4-3 lead, but the Sharks couldn't escape regulation with a win. Then-Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and iced six forwards when Jonathan Marchessault scored the game-tying goal with 47 seconds remaining in the third period. That set up an overtime that lasted nearly 20 minutes before Barclay Goodrow sent San Jose to the second round, and the Sharks' win left the Golden Knights with a summer of animosity that made Vegas' decision to replace Gallant with fired San Jose coach Peter DeBoer so much more shocking. 

[RELATED: How struggles in faceoff circle plagued Sharks on disastrous road trip]

To recap: Game 7 of Sharks-Golden Knights included one of the most controversial (or worst, if you ask Golden Knights fans) calls in NHL history, a historic power play that sent the SAP Center crowd into delirium, a game-tying goal that silenced the same crowd not even six minutes later and nearly a full period of extra hockey. 

By comparison, the twists and turns of Bruins-Maple Leafs seem rather straightforward. 

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in familiar 4-1 loss vs. Canucks

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Sharks takeaways: What we learned in familiar 4-1 loss vs. Canucks

BOX SCORE

The Sharks closed out a forgetful unofficial first half of their regular season against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday night. Just like so many of San Jose's games thus far, it ended in a lackluster loss.

While Team Teal ended up suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Canucks, it could have been much worse. The Sharks were unable to sustain any kind of offensive pressure, and goaltender Aaron Dell had to be on top of his game to prevent the score from getting out of hand -- which it eventually did.

The loss completes a winless three-game road trip for San Jose, over which the team was outscored 14-4.

Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' final game before the All-Star break:

Message not received

After San Jose's 4-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner didn't mince words when calling out his team, saying, "I think it's time to man up." Boughner then sent another message to his squad when he made Marcus Sorensen a healthy scratch for Saturday's matchup with the Canucks, pleading for more "relentlessness."

Who knows about Sorensen, but as for the rest of the Sharks, it did not appear that they heeded their coach's message. At no point throughout Saturday's game did San Jose impose its will on the opposition. In fact, it usually was the other way around.

The Sharks entered Saturday trailing the Canucks by 10 points in the standings. It's 12 now, and for a team with such little margin for error, San Jose's performance did not reflect the kinds of urgency one would expect.

Shots, shots, shots

The Sharks are averaging nearly one fewer goal per game than they did last season, and while you can point to the absence of certain individuals as perhaps the main reason why, it's really tough to score without getting pucks to the net. San Jose provided even more evidence of that fact Saturday night, accumulating only seven shots on goal through the first two periods, compared to 27 for Vancouver. It wasn't simply a failure to get shots through, either. The Canucks had attempted 54 shots entering the third period, while the Sharks had attempted precisely half that number.

San Jose tested Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko more in the third period with 10 shots on goal, and Barclay Goodrow was even able to find the back of the net to prevent Team Teal from being shut out for a second consecutive game. But considering how badly they needed a victory, the Sharks' slow start doomed them in the end.

[RELATED: Report: Wilson won't disrupt Sharks' core at trade deadline]

Not-so-special teams

The Sharks have been able to hang their hat on their No. 1-ranked penalty kill all season long, but it hasn't been nearly as dominant as of late. Vancouver went 1-for-6 on the power play against San Jose, marking the third time in four games that the Sharks have been scored on while shorthanded. And in the only game San Jose didn't allow a power-play goal, the Sharks gave up a short-handed goal to the Avalanche. 

The Canucks' lone power-play goal Saturday proved to be the game-winner. The Sharks haven't had many relative strengths this season, but when the few that they have had start to stumble, San Jose simply doesn't have much recourse.

How players' meeting was catalyst for Sharks' suddenly-hot power play

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How players' meeting was catalyst for Sharks' suddenly-hot power play

SAN JOSE -- From Nov. 19 to Dec. 31, the Sharks' power play was beyond putrid, scoring only twice on 49 attempts. But since the turn of the calendar, San Jose has been scorching with the man-advantage.

In the Sharks' 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at SAP Center on Thursday night, San Jose went 1-for-3 on the power play, with the lone marker proving to be the game-winning goal -- an absolute howitzer from Joe Thornton. By scoring that power-play goal, Thornton became the oldest player in franchise history to score a game-winning goal at 40 years, 191 days. But more importantly, it continued a trend in which the special-teams unit seems to have gotten back on track.

Counting Thornton's goal, the Sharks are now 5-for-11 with the man-advantage in 2020, scoring at least one power-play goal in four of their five games. So, what's different?

According to defenseman Brent Burns, well, not much at all.

"Getting bounces," Burns explained. "You're seeing things go in that previously never did. Instead of hitting a stick and going out, it's going in. Just quick movement and getting shots. I know it looks easy from where you guys sit, but the difference between [a shot] getting through and not is pretty minimal.

"It's nice to see that going in and guys getting confidence from that. But I wouldn't say there's much difference."

While Burns' explanation seems perfectly plausible, the good bounces aren't necessarily happening now by accident. Just before the power play caught fire, some of its critical members got together to try to figure things out.

"We had a dinner probably five, six games ago as a group of five, and chatted a little bit," Sharks winger Evander Kane said after the win. "[The power play] seemed to kind of take off from there. We've got some good puck movement going on. We don't care who scores and it's working right now."

When pressed for more details about that meeting of the minds, Kane was mum on the specific participants. But whatever was said certainly appears to have worked. 

"We knew that we hit rock bottom," Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said of the power play. "You could see that we changed personnel, changed units around and it started clicking. And I think the biggest difference is we're not holding on to pucks on the power play. We're making other teams adjust because we're having good puck movement and I believe that our shooting mentality is a lot better."

As impressive as Thornton's shot was -- and boy did that thing move -- Boughner pointed to a less obvious reason for the puck finding the back of the net.

"And on that goal, great shot by [Thornton]," Boughner said, "but I think he could see where [Barclay Goodrow] was, and it was in the goalie's eyes. And the last few power-play goals, they're all the same. Timo [Meier] the other night in St. Louis. [Goodrow] is doing a real good job of sitting on the lap of that goalie. So it's nice to have options. That unit has been excellent for us."

[RELATED: Sharks captain Couture blames himself for fractured ankle]

The two points resulting from the win will aid the Sharks as they attempt to climb their way back into the playoff picture. They still have a long way to go, but Thursday's performance can serve as a building block as they attempt to piece some victories together. With Logan Couture expected to miss several weeks with a fractured ankle, San Jose can use every offensive boost it can get. The power play has found a groove, and the longer it can keep it up, the longer the Sharks can keep their postseason hopes alive.