If there was any doubt of the condition that Joe Pavelski was in entering his return in game seven, it was quickly answered 6 minutes in. With the Av’s grabbing the first power play of the night the home crowd couldn’t help but feel uneasy. However, after a routine penalty kill followed by a empty power play of their own it was time to reintroduce Pavelski.
Having just maintained the offense zone during the end of a power play Brent Burns took a one timer from the point which was beautifully deflected by Pavelski past Grubauer for a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for Colorado during the same time that Pavelski was creating scoring chances, his counter part MacKinnon took himself out of the game. What looked like a self inflicted injury after crashing into the boards MacKinnon favored his right shoulder and headed to the locker room. Giving up a goal and losing arguably their best player was probably not how the Av’s pictured the 1st period starting.
The Sharks made matters worse five minutes later as it was Pavelski’s time to feed his other teammates. A quick chip and chase dump into the zone by Evander Kane had Pavelski working against the boards and looking to pass. Tomas Hertl appeared in front and received a great pass to slam home another one to make it a commanding 2-0 lead for the Sharks.
Whether MacKinnon was healed from his injury or whether he heard the roars of the crowd after the Sharks second goal he nevertheless joined his teammates back on the bench. This was a huge emotional lift for the Av’s as they responded with a resurgence of scoring opportunities for the backend of the 1st period.
The Av’s energy finally paid off and shocked the Sharks and their crowd when Rantanen blasted one by Martin Jones with 6.9 seconds left in the period. Thus, allowing the Av’s to take some sort of momentum into the locker room only down 2-1.
The surge that the Av’s ended with in the 1st was sustained entering the 2nd, but was deterred as Soderberg took a hi-sticking penalty a few minutes in. The Av’s once again killed off the penalty and the two teams battled in the neutral zone looking for an opportunity to make something happen. Happen it did or so we thought… During a Av’s change it appeared that Wilson had scored to tie the game up 2-2 and for the moment take the wind out of the SAP Arena sails.
The celebration was cut short as the Sharks decided to challenge the play for offside. Upon replay it appeared that Landeskog took his time on the change but still may have been touching the blue line to keep himself onside. The refs had other thoughts and after a few minutes with the head sets and the Ipad’s the refs determined that Landeskog was indeed offside.
Personally I have no idea how that call gets overturned, when watching the replays there is no clear definitive evidence that would make one think you could overturn the call on the ice of a goal. On a side note, in the NFL we hear “the play on the field stands” all the time which basically means they did not see enough to overturn the call. In the NHL it feels like the refs want to overturn anything that may have a bit of doubt to it.
In any case the Avs had to feel discourged and they let it show In their play. Just minutes later Colorado allowed Joonas Donskoi to skate around the goal with the puck and fire one into the goal creating a two goal cushion for the Sharks.
The rest of the second period was very methodical and looked like the Av’s may have given up. Colorado was very lucky to get into the locker room just down 3-1 at the end of the 2nd period.
If I told you the Sharks came out flat in the 3rd period it would be a huge understatement and they certainly paid for it. Colorado took the puck and let the Sharks know they were not giving up as Tyson Jost scores a goal :51 into the period. With that lift the Av’s from that moment had a continuous and needed sense of urgency in the first 10 minutes of the third outshouting the Sharks 8-1.
With the outcome still in doubt halfway through the 3rd the Av’s went to the power play with an opportunity tie the game up. However, the Sharks buckled down and not only held Colorado to 1 SOG during the power play but also created a short handed scoring chance and eventually killing the penalty off.
Unfortunately for Sharks fans it was time for the their team to become a defensive team. Teams with a one goal lead at the FINAL 5 mark always tend to just sit back and hope they can hold off the aggressor. The Sharks literally became that soccer team that sits back and hopes the other team doesn’t score (Sorry, to soon Barca?) To be fair at least in the NHL teams cannot just “clear” the puck and waist time due to icing rule. I digress…
So, basically the Sharks are just withstanding errant shot after shot and trying to continually clear the zone. We all know how this has gone, just ask the Sharks about their last game 7 they played in. Vegas scored under a minute to force an OT because of this same strategy…. maybe they would change there tactic with less than two minutes left.
The short answer: No. The Av’s pulled Grubauer with having an offensive zone faceoff and then spent the next 1:15 peppering Martin with shots. The Sharks finally iced the puck and took a timeout to give their team some fresh legs. Would you think at this point they would change their strategy…NO. The last 45 seconds was a mix of Av’s shots, Martin saves and icing that eventually lead to the time being against the Avs and a win for the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks will face the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Finals starting on Saturday, May 11th
Grandstand Player of the Game – Gabriel Landeskog… We cant definitively state that his lazy change cost the Av’s the game. (See refs there was not enough clear evidence) but if that call is not overturned the momentum of Colorado could have been too much to overcome.
Club Level Player of the Game – Martin Jones…he played a good game, not great but in the last two minutes of the game when the Sharks players decided to just hope that they would pull it out Jones stopped 3 huge shots to secure the win.
Diamond Box Player of the Game – Joe Pavelski…was there any doubt he would be the top player of the game? Pavelski came out after having two weeks off and sent a message that he was back with a goal and an assist in the first period. With Joe back it should it gives the Sharks a real chance at the Stanley Cup!