Tomas Hertl

Kevin Labanc makes history in Sharks' crazy Game 7 comeback vs. Vegas

Kevin Labanc makes history in Sharks' crazy Game 7 comeback vs. Vegas

SAN JOSE -- Kevin Labanc made Stanley Cup playoffs history Tuesday night at SAP Center.

Labanc powered the Sharks' wild third-period comeback during their 5-4 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of the first-round series. The winger assisted or scored on all four of San Jose's goals after Cody Eakin's controversial cross-checking major, becoming the first player in the history of the NHL's postseason to score four points in a single period of a Game 7.

With four points in 4:01, Labanc's playoff heroics will be remembered as a driving force behind the most memorable game in Sharks history and as the answer to a trivia question.

"I don't even know," Labanc said when a reporter brought the record to his attention after the Sharks' win Tuesday. "I'm still kind of awe-struck right now. But yeah, that power play was on point and really came in clutch for us."

Labanc is not a household name, but he has grown into a proven power-play contributor over the last two seasons. Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were the only Sharks to play more minutes per game on the power play than Labanc. In the last two regular seasons, Labanc's 37 points ranked fourth among Sharks skaters and his 31 assists are second only to Brent Burns. 

He also has been among the most productive players on the power play across the league. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, skaters have played 150 minutes in 5-on-4 situations. Of that group, Labanc ranks in 10th in assist rate (5.06 per hour), 14th in primary-assist rate (2.87 per hour) and 22nd in points per hour (5.91), according to Natural Stat Trick.

"He help us a lot," Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said Tuesday of Labanc's power-play contributions this season " ... A lot of plays he can make. He's really smart, he's patient and he for sure help us [in Game 7] because we were a little bit struggling early -- and kind of all playoff with power play. But, he come back in big moments and you need a guy like this."

Before Eakin's penalty, the Sharks were 0-for-4 on the man advantage in Game 7, and just 4-for-29 through the entirety of the season. But in the absence of injured captain Joe Pavelski, who drew the penalty after his head hit the ice following a collision with Vegas forward Paul Stastny from Eakin's shove off the face-off, Labanc and the Sharks' power play got to work quickly.

Labanc set up Logan Couture's first power-play goal with a Sharks staple, dishing a cross-ice pass through the seam of the Vegas penalty kill that got goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury moving laterally. Labanc's second and third points -- both secondary assists -- played out in similar fashion to one another, with the forward quickly working loose pucks up to defenseman Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, respectively. Hertl deflected Karlsson's shot past Fleury, and Burns one-touched a pass that Couture stepped into with a slap shot.

For his record-setting fourth point, Labanc handled the goal-scoring duties. Gathering the puck just in front of the Vegas blue line, Labanc saw he had time, skated straight to the right face-off dot and fired the Sharks' go-ahead goal past Fleury.

"I just kind of saw a little opening," Labanc said. "They kind of just gave me [the] shot, and they've been giving me shot all series. So, I just kind of saw the far side and went for it, and it was also a good screen by Timo [Meier] kind of getting in Fleury's eyes. He's been great all series, so we got in his eyes and went in."

[RELATED: Errey forseaw how Sharks could rally to win epic Game 7]

The Sharks held onto the lead given by Labanc's goal until Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault scored his fourth goal in as many games to tie Game 7 with 47 seconds remaining.  Barclay Goodrow's goal with 1:41 remaining in overtime eventually completed San Jose's comeback, and the Sharks advanced to the second round. The Colorado Avalanche await, fresh off dispatching the top-seeded Calgary Flames in a five-game, first-round series.

But the win that got them there? One that Labanc played an instrumental role in? That will be hard to top.

"Game 7, down 3-0 in the third period with 10 minutes to go?" Labanc rhetorically asked. "I'd say that's a cherry on top for sure, but it's still not over yet. We've still got three more rounds to go. It's a good win. It's a great feeling, and we've just gotta take care of our body and get ready for the next series."

Watch Barclay Goodrow's overtime goal end Sharks-Golden Knights Game 7

Watch Barclay Goodrow's overtime goal end Sharks-Golden Knights Game 7

SAN JOSE -- After a third period that had just about anything a hockey fan could ask for, Game 7 of the Sharks' Stanley Cup playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights ended in fitting fashion -- with sudden-death overtime.

Barclay Goodrow's goal with 1:41 remaining in OT on Tuesday night sealed the Sharks' 5-4 series-clinching win at SAP Center.

The game-winning goal followed what will go down as one of the craziest periods in Stanley Cup playoff history. The Sharks trailed 3-0 when captain Joe Pavelski left the game with 10:47 left in the third period after he was cross-checked by Knights forward Cody Eakin and collided with Vegas forward Paul Stastny. Pavelski did not return for overtime, but his teammates nearly won the game for him.

The Sharks scored four goals during Eakin's five-minute major penalty, off the sticks of Logan Couture (twice), Tomas Hertl and Kevin Labanc. Labanc's goal gave San Jose a 4-3 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the third.

 

Vegas applied pressure and pushed for an equalizer in the final 6:39 of regulation. San Jose killed off a Labanc penalty, but the Golden Knights tied the score with 47 seconds remaining in regulation and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pulled for an extra attacker. It was Jonathan Marchessault's fourth goal in four games.

[RELATED: Vegas had 2-0 lead after review upheld goal call]

Now, thanks to Goodrow's game-winner, the Sharks will advance to play the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, beginning Friday in San Jose.

Chances are they won't play in a game as bonkers as this one.

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 2-1 double-OT Game 6 win in Vegas

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 2-1 double-OT Game 6 win in Vegas

BOX SCORE

You don't get much more Stanley Cup playoff drama than this. And the Sharks made sure they'll have one more game of it.

After five games of relatively emotional hockey, the Sharks and the Golden Knights played a tight-checking Game 6 at a ferocious pace in what was a pivotal moment for both teams. Vegas had an opportunity to clinch the first-round series on home ice, and San Jose had a chance to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

In the end, Tomas Hertl -- who told the SAP Center crowd after Game 5 that the Sharks would be back Tuesday for a Game 7 -- scored while the Sharks were short-handed 11:17 into the second overtime to give them a 2-1 win.

Here are three takeaways from Game 6 at T-Mobile Arena:

Two words: Martin. Jones.

Any of the Sharks goalie's teammates will tell you he's one cool customer. According to defenseman Brenden Dillon, Jones isn't one to pore over what's said about him on social media. That makes you wonder what was going through his head before Game 6.

Jones was coming off a strong Game 5, but he also was returning to Vegas, where he struggled mightily in Games 3 and 4. There's no denying that a bulk of the focus was on which Jones would show up between the pipes in Game 6.

Needless to say, he was the Sharks' star of the game, after making an all-time franchise-record 58 saves.

San Jose was pinned in its own zone for a good portion of the second period, when Vegas scored its lone goal. But Jones' best save came at the start of the third period, when he absolutely robbed Reilly Smith after the Sharks turned over the puck in the neutral zone. San Jose was completely hemmed in its own zone in the final frame of regulation, not getting a shot on goal for over four minutes.

Without Jones' outstanding performance, the game wouldn't have gone into two OTs.

The celly will be short-lived

No time for the Sharks to celebrate too hard after that win, as it's on to preparations for Game 7 on home ice.

While San Jose did some good things Sunday -- or, in Jones' case, some great things -- it must be better Tuesday. The Sharks were abysmal in the face-off circle, losing 57 of 101 draws, and they had difficulty clearing the puck out of their own zone in the final 40 minutes, giving the Knights far too many chances.

No stopping now

The Sharks need to stop giving the opposition the opportunity to hang around and make things interesting. San Jose looked so worn down by the end of the regulation that it's a wonder the team had anything left in the tank in overtime, let alone double OT.

They have one shot at advancing and facing the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. With momentum gained from this Game 6 win, the Sharks can't miss it.