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Sharks advance in playoffs thanks to opportunistic power play in Game 7

Performance of Jones late in series, big goals from Hertl, Couture key in win against Golden Knights

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference First Round after rallying for a stunning 5-4 overtime victory in Game 7 at SAP Center on Tuesday.

San Jose won the best-of-7 series after trailing 3-1 and facing a 3-0 deficit in the third period Tuesday.

The series victory comes one season after the Sharks lost to the Golden Knights in six games in the second round.

The Sharks next will play the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Second Round. That series will start Friday.

Here are 5 reasons the Sharks advanced:


1. Taking advantage of major penalty in Game 7

The Sharks entered the third period of Game 7 4-for-29 on the power play in the series but scored four times during a five-minute major to take a 4-3 lead after trailing by three goals.

After Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin was penalized for cross-checking Joe Pavelski at 9:13, Logan Couture (9:20), Tomas Hertl (10:09), Couture (12:53) and Kevin Labanc (13:21) scored in a span of 4:01 to revitalize the Sharks, who were less than 11 minutes from losing the series at the time of the penalty.

"That power-play unit won us the game, but you know, the boys, they got together and they said, 'This is for Pav,'" Sharks forward Joe Thornton said. "So we love him. It was just a matter of will, and we willed that one for him."


2. Jones rises up

After allowing 13 goals on 80 shots in Games 1-4, including being pulled twice (three goals on seven shots in 6:39 of a 5-3 loss in Game 2; two goals on seven shots in 20:00 of a 5-0 loss in Game 4), coach Peter DeBoer stuck with Martin Jones as the starting goalie and it paid off.

With San Jose facing elimination in Games 5-7, Jones stopped 122 of 129 shots (.946 save percentage). That included 30 saves in a 5-2 win in Game 5, and a Sharks record 58 saves in a 2-1 double-overtime win in Game 6 at Vegas. Jones made 34 saves in Game 7.

"Jonesy coming up big time," Hertl said after Game 7. "He helped us win the last three games and he was unbelievable again tonight. I'm so happy for him ... He stepped it up and helped us win the next three games."

Video: Sharks dispatch Vegas in epic seven games to advance


3. Big games from Hertl, Couture facing elimination

Hertl and Couture each scored four goals in the final three games of the series with the Sharks facing elimination.

Hertl scored 1:16 into Game 5 for a 1-0 lead, scored shorthanded in double-overtime to win Game 6, and got the Sharks to within 3-2 in the third period of Game 7. Couture scored in the first period of Games 5 and 6, and scored twice in the third period of Game 7, including the first goal seven seconds into the five-minute major.

"You don't want to just lose after five games and go home because it can be like the last game of the season," Hertl said. "After tough losing (by) three (after the second period of Game 7), we still believed it in the locker room that we can do it and we did it."


4. Staying disciplined

After allowing eight goals in 24 times shorthanded in Games 1-5, including allowing two power-play goals each in Games 3-5, the Sharks' penalty kill was perfect in Games 6-7. They went 3-for-3 in Game 6 and 2-for-2 in Game 7.

Trailing 3-2 in the series, the Sharks got a shorthanded goal from Hertl to win Game 6.


[RELATED: Full Sharks vs. Golden Knights series coverage]


"As you go through a series you get to know a team's tendencies and you get to dial in on them a little bit and I think Jonesy is a big part of that too," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "Your goalie is always your best penalty killer."


5. Containing Stastny line after Game 4

The Golden Knights' line of Max Pacioretty (four goals, six assists), Paul Stastny (two goals, six assists) and Mark Stone (six goals, four assists) combined for 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in Games 1-4.

However, the three were silent in Games 5-7, combining for three points (one goal, two assists), including none in Games 5 and 6.


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