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.

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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'


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.

Why Sharks fans voted Golden Knights as San Jose's biggest NHL rival

Why Sharks fans voted Golden Knights as San Jose's biggest NHL rival

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Game 3 of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Sharks and Anaheim Ducks tonight at 8:00 p.m. PT on NBC Sports California.

Hate is a strong word.

But when it comes to Sharks fans and their relationship with the Vegas Golden Knights, it’s a pretty apt descriptor.

When asked who San Jose’s biggest rival is in a Twitter poll, fans responded overwhelmingly in favor of the NHL’s newest organization.

While the game fans will see tonight on NBC Sports California features the Anaheim Ducks, the Golden Knights come away as the team's fiercest adversary.

Vegas first began play in the NHL to start the 2017-18 season, but have had plenty of run-ins with San Jose in that short span.

The Golden Knights and Sharks have competed in 13 playoff games over the past two Stanley Cup Playoffs, and these postseason battles are the fuel behind the mutual dislike between fanbases.

Most notably, Game 7 of the 2019 first-round series in San Jose produced one of the NHL’s most improbable and controversial comebacks, as the Sharks rallied from a three-goal deficit in the third period to win in overtime.

But one year earlier, the Knights did get the best of the Sharks in the first postseason appearance in Vegas franchise history, finessing their way past the Sharks in six games in the 2018 playoffs.

Overall, including postseason contests, the two clubs have faced off 25 times, with Vegas winning 15 of the matchups. In addition to a pair of preseason games each season, the two have gone at it over 30 times in less than three full seasons. That amount of extreme familiarity has led to a handful of altercations.

[RELATED: Most important lesson Sharks' Ferraro learned as a rookie]

Former Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer even had a war of words with Golden Knights bench boss Gerard Gallant, which became especially ironic after Vegas hired DeBoer in February to replace Gallant.

Similar to their Bay Area counterpart Golden State Warriors and the boiling contention they have with the Houston Rockets after years of playoff battles, the Sharks and Golden Knights arguably have become the NHL’s most hateful rivalry due to the extensive recent postseason history.

Even after the coronavirus pause ceases, it’s hard to imagine the mutual vitriol dying down anytime soon.