Programming notes: Watch the extraordinary replay of Game 7 Shark playoffs against Vegas Golden Knights tonight at 9 p.m. PT at NBC Sports California.
The voice, and the silence that preceded it, was unforgettable.
Shark fans at the SAP Center roared like never before on April 23, 2019, when San Jose eliminated the Vegas Golden Knights in the epic Game 7 of the Stanley Cup series first round playoffs. Seeing captain Joe Pavelski at the time, bleeding and limping on the ice, clearing the arena of noise. Seeing Sharks score four goals in the main penalty the next five minutes – and, finally, overtime winner Barclay Goodrow – easily filled it.
STOCK WINS !!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/rtljyjqrSB
– Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) April 24, 2019
I reported to Game 7 of the additional press box at SAP Center that night, sitting next to NBC Sports California’s social engagement director, Danny Pedroza. It was not like Danny’s other games, me or anyone who worked in one of the press boxes the night before it closed or after.
Game 7, prizes for the bitterly contested series in one of the best NHL competitions, including:
It just scratches the surface. Game 7 is set to go back on Monday at 6pm. PT on NBCSN as part of Hockey Week In America, here are four nuggets of the Wild Shark victory.
First time for everything
Sharks have won Game 7 at home before defeating the Golden Knight. They also won Game 7 in overtime, eliminating Calgary Flames a quarter of a century earlier. They never did both at the SAP Center, until Goodrow turned on the lights with 1:41 remaining in additional sessions.
To be fair with the building formerly known as the San Jose Arena, it is only the 42nd in NHL history that Game 7 will end with (at least one) PL. Many buildings have never been seen before, including the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens and the Chicago Stadium.
Cody Eakin’s main punishment, Pavelski’s injury, and the power play that followed made Game 7 one of the most unique in NHL history. But the end of the Sharks victory that night was also very different.
Sharks and Golden Knights shook hands after Barclay Goodrow’s winning goal – and the draw – in extra time. Photo courtesy of: Marcus White, NBC Sports California
Sharks, before their historic explosion, have been very bad at the power game against the Golden Knight. San Jose scored as many goals (four) in an insane third-period power game as it did in the six games before Game 7.
The percentage of shots often causes scoring drought as much as the others, and the play of powerless sharks is no different. They scored 13.81 percent of their 5-on-4 shots during the 2018-19 regular season, and converted only 8 percent of them in the first six games of the series. Sharks then score on four of their 15 5-on-4 shots – or, 26.67 percent – in Game 7.
Sure, San Jose benefits from the wrong call, but a regression to the average value can help the Sharks too.
Time is Nyquist
Gustav Nyquist slid just one, 30-second shift in the third period after a barrage of playing four Sharks power. However, San Jose could not do anything with hole six in extra time after Pavelski’s injury, so the Swedish winger filled Pavelski’s position with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.
Couture, Meier and Nyquist are the dominant trio in overtime. They created three dangerous chances in just 4:33 together, equaling the combination of Kevin Labanc-Joe Thornton-Marcus Sorensen in nine minutes less together.
Sharks are in full control of the game during additional sessions, and the inclusion of Nyquist at the top of San Jose is a big reason why. Otherwise, Game 7 can end up much different.
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If the Golden Knight won Game 7, then Vegas coach Gerard Gallant would get more credit for the bold tactical move towards the goal of binding Jonathan Marchessault’s game.
Marchessault was one of six Golden Knights forward on ice with goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury being pulled, skating with Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty. The six were a whole of the two Vegas front lines at the time, and they pinned the Sharks in the defense zone for their entire 41 seconds together.
The Golden Knight season is at the forefront, so despair will undoubtedly drive Gallant beyond innovation. However, he deserves an award for creativity, especially in sports that often rely on strategies that avoid risk.
Here hope that, every time the NHL starts the following season after the coronavirus pandemic is contained, Gallant is behind the team bench.
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