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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Small Plays

Irwin's 'Small Play' leads to 5-on-3 goal for Sharks

Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 12:50 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

Visa presents "Small Plays" which looks at the little things during a game that turn into big results. Here is a recent example from Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.

Irwin forces Kopitar into costly penalty: In dire need of a Game 6 victory to keep their season alive, the Sharks got a huge lift in the first period on a small play by rookie defenseman Matt Irwin. San Jose was already operating with the man advantage when Irwin disrupted Anze Kopitar's clear attempt. Irwin approached Kopitar aggressively along the boards, forcing Kopitar to make a quick decision before bracing himself for a collision. Kopitar committed a delay-of-game penalty on the play, putting the Sharks in prime position to open the scoring. With 35 seconds remaining on the ensuing 5-on-3, Joe Pavelski fed Joe Thornton with a perfect seam pass for the game's first goal, which ultimately helped San Jose stay unbeaten this postseason at HP Pavilion and force a Game 7 in Los Angeles. Thornton's goal was the team's League-leading 10th home power-play goal of the playoffs, and it was made possible by Irwin's opportunistic play on Kopitar.

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery