Down 5-4 with less than a minute remaining, the Sharks seemed like they were going to drop another game at home, all but eliminating their chance for coming back in the series against Colorado.
The situation had grown dire. Then, Joe Pavelski took Dany Heatley’s blocked shot and rebounded it past Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson, and into the net with 31.3 seconds remaining in the third. The game was tied at 5 and heading into OT.
5:22 into overtime, Devin Setoguchi redirected Ryane Clowe’s shot through Anderson’s five-hole to score his second goal of the night, and more importantly, the game winning goal.
The Sharks evaded the 0-2 hole that has trapped them in their last two playoff series. After falling 0-2 to the Ducks last year, the Sharks would never recover and would lose the series in six games. In 2008, the Sharks fell 0-3 to the Dallas Stars, and could not take the series back, despite winning the next two games and taking the third to triple overtime.
This time, however, the Sharks do not have to worry about the 0-2 hole. Now they have a clean slate and can prepare to face the Avalanche in Colorado.
While the Sharks emerged victorious, there are many issues that need to be remedied before San Jose once again face Colorado.
Nabokov faced only 22 shots, and let in five goals. The first goal was courtesy of another bad bounce, but as Nabby admitted, he “didn’t make the big saves for the guys.”
Colorado drew first blood, on another mistake by captain Rob Blake. Pressured in his own zone, Blake threw the puck at Vlasic. The unsuspecting Vlasic watched as the puck hit him in the neck/shoulder region and bounce into his own net.
“Bounces aren’t going our way,” said Devin Setoguchi. No kidding. Colorado’s game-winning goal in game one went off Blake’s skate and into the net.
However, the Sharks showed heart in this game. San Jose came back from five one-goal deficits to finally lead, and win, for the first time in OT.
No one showed more heart than Scott Nichol, the 35 acquired by Doug Wilson during the summer. No one expected much of Nichol, but Coach McLellan had faith in the gritty forward, who scored the equalizer in the end of the second period, with 15 seconds left. Nichol skated hard, blocked shots, and played like this game meant everything – which it did. Nichol was rewarded with his first career playoff goal, and the second star of the game.
The Sharks scored the tying goal with less than a minute left in every period.
Malhotra tied the game at one with 42 seconds left in the first, scoring on the powerplay. Nichol tied it in the second, and Pavelski got the big one in the third.
Strangely missing from the names of scorers are the players on San Jose’s top line, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau.
The HTML line yet again failed to score for the Sharks. This is obviously another sign of concern for San Jose. The Sharks need their top line to produce goals if they want to progress deeper into the postseason.
However, the top line did produce points for the team. Thornton was credited with two assists while Heater and Marleau both notched assists of their own. Heatley had a brilliant chance to tie the game at one, but hit the crossbar with most of the net empty.
The Sharks came close to tying it in the third, but had two goals waived off.
The Colorado Avalanche are no pushover. The Sharks will have to play strong and hard to to win this series and move on to face an opponent just as tough. While game two was close, the Sharks did show they had enough passion to fight back, over and over, to win.
“They definitely had their game on,” said Nabokov, “They did a helluva a job by putting the pucks in the net and showing their character out there.”