The San Jose Sharks survive shenanigans, bloodshed and controversy to complete the miraculous first-round comeback over Vegas.
Oh my, where do we begin San Jose Sharks fans?
First off, to all of you in Sharks territory you have witnessed the greatest comeback in franchise history. It included a rollercoaster of emotions, an unruly rivalry between two hard-nosed, determined competitors and incredible late-game heroics.
Let’s relive the wild ride to the finish line: the San Jose Sharks hunting down the Golden Knights in the absolutely unbelievable first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Game 1: Sharks 5, Golden Knights 2 @ SAP Center
The Sharks scored the series-opening goal, but the ice breaker came in a very scary fashion: off the face of captain Joe Pavelski.
Pavelski, a determined fearless leader, would return with a new shield around his face and play the rest of the game. Little did Pavelski know that this would not be the worst of the injuries he would face in the series.
Backed by heavy offensive production from the blue line, the Sharks took Game 1 with an overall poised and precise effort, quieting the critics of Martin Jones’ goaltending woes and San Jose’s inability to score on Marc-Andre Fleury.
Game 2: Golden Knights 5, Sharks 3 @ SAP Center
After the poor Game 1 performance, the Golden Knights responded right away in Game 2, scoring three goals on seven shots in the opening six minutes.
Head coach Peter DeBoer had no choice, but to pull out Jones after the sluggish start, looking uncomfortable and uneven immediately after puck drop.
Fortunately, the San Jose Sharks retaliated with an offensive first-period surge of their own, mounting three goals in two lightning-fast minutes, including the equalizer by the future Hall of Famer Joe Thornton.
While this sensational first period rush unleashed a huge shot of adrenaline into the team and the fanbase, Game 2’s first period would not be the craziest sequence of events in the first round.
Knotted at three to begin the second period, San Jose tipped the scale of momentum in their favor. However, a crucial, controversial penalty flipped the script just a minute into the resumed action.
Logan Couture appeared to have given the Sharks their first lead of the night after redirecting home a shot from the point, but refs disallowed the goal and, rather, called goaltender interference even though No. 39 was nowhere near the blue paint.
As a result, San Jose could not challenge the play, Couture served two minutes for the infraction, and Mark Stone made it hurt even more moments later with the ensuing power-play snipe.
Fleury shut the door and the Golden Knights did not look back from there, heading back home with a series split.
Game 3: Golden Knights 6, Sharks 3 @ T-Mobile Arena
Game 3 was a doozy right out of the gates.
Just 16 seconds into the contest, Vegas’ top line marched right up broadway seconds and Mark Stone drew blood first with his fourth goal of the series.
The Golden Knights pummeled Jones with great-A scoring chances from all angles, outshooting San Jose 40-28 when the night was all said and done.
But Game 3 would not end without some late-game mayhem. After chirping at each other for the entire series, Evander Kane and Ryan Reaves finally dropped the gloves.
It’s also worth noting that Joe Thornton earned a one-game suspension after appearing to clip Nosek’s head with his left arm with just over three minutes remaining in the second period, and would sit out Game 4.
The penalties piled up and San Jose paid the price as Vegas jumped out to a 2-1 series lead.
Game 4: Golden Knights 5, Sharks 0 @ T-Mobile Arena
This was San Jose’s worst loss of the series, and the team let their emotions lay out on the ice.
Evander Kane and Timo Meier both earned game misconducts, and the San Jose Sharks could not solve Fleury at all, who made 28 saves to secure the lone shutout of the series.
Game 5: Sharks 5, Golden Knights 3 @ SAP Center
Down 3-1 in the series, the San Jose Sharks needed a jolt to manufacture any sort of comeback, and Game 5’s hero Tomas Hertl brought exactly that.
Hertl broke the ice at the 1:16 mark of the first period to give San Jose the early 1-0 lead on a perfect sharp-angle snapshot.
Perhaps, the most critical turning point of the series was turned in by Martin Jones, robbing Reilly Smith of a game-tying goal late in the third period where Vegas was on the brink of taking the series.
Instead, Jones made the biggest save of the series in that moment, keeping the Sharks on top 3-2.
Hertl sealed the deal with power-play dagger, and gave all Sharks fans hope for Game 7.
Game 6: Sharks 2, Golden Knights 1 @ T-Mobile Arena
It was do-or-die again for the San Jose Sharks, but in enemy territory once again.
However, there was a different feeling to Game 6 than previous two road games.
Couture kicked off the scoring in the dying seconds of the first period, dragging a screened wrist shot around Nate Schmidt and soaring into the back of the net.
Jon Marchessault tied the game in the second period on a quick transition and the temperature in T-Mobile Arena quickly turned up.
Vegas used all the momentum to generate offensive threats in the third, but Jones defended his crease with ease and Game 6 needed not one, but two overtimes to settle the score.
Jones’ 58 stops set the new franchise single-game save record, but it was Tomas Hertl who made the biggest headlines, scoring the first-ever shorthanded goal in double overtime in NHL history.
As Hertl promised, he delivered with the 2-1 double-overtime winner and San Jose’s season remained alive for a highly-anticipated Game 7 at The Tank.
Game 7: Sharks 5, Golden Knights 4 @ SAP Center
This was a Game 7 for the ages.
The first two periods were lifeless for San Jose while the Golden Knights pounced with a two-goal cushion into the third frame.
Max Pacioretty scored Vegas’ third goal in first few minutes, and it looked like San Jose’s postseason run was going to come to a close. But suddenly, one thing led to another.
Cody Eakin cross-checked Pavelski and the Sharks captain crashed to the ice with a devastating blow as blood fell onto the surface on immediate impact.
Eakin received the controversial five-minute major and game misconduct penalty after the very scary scene.
Without Pavelski, the Sharks, led by humble encouragement of Couture and Thornton, would avenge their fallen captain with four power-play goals in three minutes to take a 4-3 lead.
But that was not the end. Marchessault roofed a shot over Jones with 47 seconds remaining in regulation, evening up the score at 4-4 and for the second game in a row, the Sharks and Golden Knights needed overtime.
Sharks swarmed aggressively with their top-six, including Timo Meier who collected a game-high ten shots with amazing chances in OT.
The top lines exchanged close calls off posts, but it was the unsung hero of Barclay Goodrow who saved the night, sending all Sharks fans home happy.
In just his second shift in overtime, Goodrow raced around the outside and deked by Fleury, securing the 5-4 OT victory in Game 7 over the Golden Knights.
Down 3-1 in the series, down 3-0 in third period of Game 7, never ever has Team Teal experienced the insanity, the emotion, the drive, and the magnitude of this epic comeback.
The Sharks miraculous journey to promise land does not end yet. There is still playoff hockey to tackle as they prepare to climb up the steep mountain of the Colorado Avalanche with hopes to make even more history.