Gerard Gallant

Four Sharks-Vegas Game 7 nuggets you might not recall from wild night

Four Sharks-Vegas Game 7 nuggets you might not recall from wild night

Editor's note: This story originally was published on March 23. We are re-promoting it on April 23, the one-year anniversary of the epic Sharks-Vegas Game 7.

The sound, and the silence that preceded it, was unforgettable.

Sharks fans at SAP Center roared like never before on April 23, 2019, when San Jose eliminated the Vegas Golden Knights in an epic Game 7 of the teams' first-round Stanley Cup playoffs series. The sight of then-captain Joe Pavelski, bleeding and limp on the ice, emptied the arena of noise. The sight of the Sharks scoring four goals on the ensuing five-minute major penalty -- and, eventually, Barclay Goodrow's overtime winner -- easily filled it.

I reported on Game 7 from an auxiliary press box at SAP Center that night, sitting next to NBC Sports California's director of social engagement, Danny Pedroza. It was unlike any other game Danny, myself or anyone working in either press box that night covered before or after. 

Game 7, the payoff to a bitterly contested series in one of the NHL's best rivalries, included:

Those are just scratching the surface. With Game 7 set to re-air Monday at 6 p.m. PT on NBCSN as part of Hockey Week In America, here are four additional nuggets from the Sharks' wild win.

First time for everything

The Sharks had won Game 7s at home before beating the Golden Knights. They'd also won a Game 7 in overtime, eliminating the Calgary Flames a quarter-century before. They'd never done both at SAP Center, however, until Goodrow lit the lamp with 1:41 remaining in the extra session.

To be fair to the building formerly known as San Jose Arena, it was only the 42nd time in NHL history that a Game 7 would end in (at least one) OT. Plenty of buildings have never seen one, including the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens and Chicago Stadium.

Cody Eakin's major penalty, Pavelski's injury and the power play that followed make this Game 7 one of the most unique in NHL history. But the ending to the Sharks' win that night was pretty distinct, too.

The Sharks and Golden Knights shake hands after Barclay Goodrow's game-winning -- and series-clinching -- goal in overtime. Photo courtesy: Marcus White, NBC Sports California

Powerful play

The Sharks, prior to their historic outburst, had been abysmal on the power play against the Golden Knights. San Jose scored as many goals (four) on the bonkers third-period power play as it did in the six games preceding Game 7.

Shooting percentages often drive scoring droughts as much as anything else, and the Sharks' fallow power play was no different. They scored on 13.81 percent of their 5-on-4 shots during the 2018-19 regular season, and converted just 8 percent of theirs in the first six games of the series. The Sharks then scored on four of their 15 5-on-4 shots -- or, 26.67 percent -- in Game 7.

Sure, San Jose benefitted from the wrong call, but regression to the mean arguably helped the Sharks just as much.

The time is Nyquist

Gustav Nyquist skated just one, 30-second shift in the third period after the Sharks' four-goal power-play barrage. San Jose couldn't make do with a top-six hole in overtime following Pavelski's injury, however, so the Swedish winger filled Pavelski's place alongside Logan Couture and Timo Meier.

Couture, Meier and Nyquist were a dominant trio in overtime. They created three high-danger chances in just 4:33 together, matching the Kevin Labanc-Joe Thornton-Marcus Sorensen combo in nine fewer minutes together.

The Sharks completely controlled play during the extra session, and Nyquist's seamless inclusion on San Jose's top line was a huge reason why. If he didn't, Game 7 could have ended much differently.

[RELATED: Need a home workout? Use Sharks rookie Mario Ferraro's]

Sixth sense

Had the Golden Knights won Game 7, then-Vegas coach Gerard Gallant would have gotten far more credit for a bold tactical move on Jonathan Marchessault's game-tying goal.

Marchessault was one of six Golden Knights forwards on the ice with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pulled, skating alongside Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty. Those six comprised the entirety of Vegas' top two forward lines at the time, and they pinned the Sharks in the defensive zone for the entirety of their 41 seconds together.

The Golden Knights' season was on the line, so desperation undoubtedly drove Gallant more than innovation. He deserves credit for creativity, however, especially in a sport that often relies on risk-averse strategies.

Here's hoping that, whenever the NHL starts its next season after the coronavirus pandemic is contained, Gallant's behind a team's bench.

Why Peter DeBoer's Sharks-to-Golden Knights switch was 'uncomfortable'

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Why Peter DeBoer's Sharks-to-Golden Knights switch was 'uncomfortable'

Editor's note: Relive the Sharks' epic Game 7 comeback against the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, April 12 at 9 p.m. PT on NBC Sports California.

Peter DeBoer coached the team that completed the greatest comeback in NHL playoff history. Less than a year later, he was coaching the team that was on the wrong side of that history.

All Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights coaches, players and fans know the game in question. Trailing by three goals in the third period of Game 7 -- after trailing the series three games to one -- San Jose scored not one, not two, not three ... count 'em ... FOUR goals on a single major power-play to flip the game script on its head. The drama was only beginning, though. Jonathan Marchessault tied things up in the final minute of regulation, and then after nearly a full 20-minute overtime period, Barclay Goodrow received a pass from Erik Karlsson, broke into the offensive zone and played the hero, scoring one of the most memorable goals in Sharks franchise history.

Though the two teams had already considered themselves rivals, that legendary game cemented that status for a long time to come. The Sharks and Golden Knights can't stand each other, and that animosity extends to the fanbases.

Tonight, they'll all get a chance to relive the climax of their head-to-head history when "The Comeback" is re-aired on NBC Sports California at 9 p.m.

DeBoer will be behind the Sharks' bench for that broadcast, but he doesn't reside there any longer. After being fired by San Jose on Dec. 11, 2019, he wasn't out of a job for much more than a month, as the rival Golden Knights fired their former coach Gerard Gallant on Jan. 15, 2020 and replaced him with DeBoer.

If you can imagine what it would have been like for Gallant to replace DeBoer and walk into San Jose's locker room after the bad blood shared between the two teams, you get a pretty good idea of the situation DeBoer inherited in Vegas.

"I'll be honest with you. It was a little uncomfortable walking in," DeBoer said on the "ESPN On Ice With Wyshynski and Kaplan" podcast last week. "We had some epic battles with that group over the last three years, having played them in the playoffs twice. All the baggage. Some of the games we had in the regular season. So my first meeting with the group was a little uncomfortable."

"From a fan perspective," DeBoer added, "I got a lot of, 'boy I hated you when you coached in San Jose, but we're starting to get used to you.' So that's good."

Though it took some time for the Golden Knights to turn things around after the coaching change, they soon hit their stride with DeBoer at the helm and won 11 of their last 13 games before the season was indefinitely paused due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As DeBoer explained, "winning helps."

[RELATED: Sharks' Karlsson adjusting well to being stay-at-home dad]

The Sharks didn't experience quite the same turnaround following their coaching switch, but they still have a crucial element of the rivalry.

"Evander [Kane] was definitely Public Enemy No. 1," DeBoer said with a laugh. "I was No. 2."

As for who likely is No. 3, well, stick around for the end of the game tonight.

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.