Three overtimes. That is how long it took for Edmonton to topple the Sharks in Game 3 of their second round series in the 2006 Playoffs presented by Intersil. When the night was complete, it was actually morning. 12:39 a.m. Mountain Time to be exact. More than four hours after the contest began. The contest marked the first time the Sharks had played into a third overtime and was the longest game in franchise history.
The Sharks were not surprisingly disappointed in the result given how long they battled.
“It is tough to take a loss after five periods,” said Steve Bernier. “You give everything you have and then you lose.”
However, in the postseason, it is not about how you lost a game or how many overtimes were played, for it is still just one loss.
“A loss is just a loss right now,” said Bernier. “Just one game in the series and we still lead 2-1.”
“Our hockey team is good at handling the highs and lows of winning and losing,” said Ville Nieminen. “We don’t get too high or too low.”
Scott Thornton knows firsthand that an extended overtime loss won’t necessarily dictate the series from here on out.
“We went seven periods with New Jersey (when Thornton was with Dallas) and they came back and won the Cup,” said Scott Thornton. “We’re still looking for a split here.”
Nieminen was just glad the game was over.
“It was a bad hockey game to watch and play in,” said Nieminen. “It’s too bad it took so long. Thank God it’s over.”
The Sharks knew the road would be tough, but still hope to head home with the two-game lead they arrived with.
“We’ve got to bounce back for Game 4,” said Carle.
“It’s just one hockey game we lost and we still lead 2-1,” said Toskala.
The Sharks as a whole know they can bring a better game to the table Friday night.
“We sat back at times,” said Carle, primarily referring to the first period during which San Jose was out shot 15-2. “They came at us hard, but we were down just one goal.”
This series was not expected to be easy and there wasn’t one prediction of a 3-0 series lead for either club at this point.
“They played desperate,” said Scott Hannan. “They needed to get the win or they would go down 3-0.”
Team Teal will go back to the drawing board on Thursday.
“We’ll make some adjustments and bounce back,” said Ron Wilson. “We didn’t drive to the net at all. We had better take it back to the net. The phantom goal interference calls got into our heads. We’ve got to create traffic and havoc.”
The Sharks will be more aggressive in other ways as well.
“We started to back in and play conservative in the third period,” said Wilson. “They scored when our defense was backing in and we didn’t pick up the winger in the neutral zone.”
The Sharks will also look to improve in the faceoff circle where they won just 39 percent of the time.
“We had a couple of guys who I’m not sure if they won a faceoff all night,” said Wilson. “We can’t keep throwing the same guy out there all night. Facoffs are huge and can put us on our heals all the time.”
Whoever lost the contest was going to feel like they could have won the game.
“Both teams had good scoring chances,” said Toskala.
“It took six periods for them to beat us,” said Ron Wilson. “For a lot of guys, this is their experience with double and triple overtime.”
JUST A BIT TIRED
The triple overtime affair wore out just about everyone who stepped on the ice. Toskala was their for more than 100 minutes. Scott Hannan paced all Sharks skaters with 44:30 of ice time, just trailing Edmonton’s Chris Pronger who registered 46:54 of ice time.
“I’m pretty exhausted,” said Matt Carle. “Both physically and mentally. I’m sure I’ll feel it in the morning.”
Despite staying on the ice longer than anyone, Toskala was in pretty good shape following the contests.
“I’m not too tired,” said Toskala. “I felt good.”
GREAT IN THE PIPES
Vesa Toskala did everything he could to give the Sharks a chance to win, stopping an amazing 54 shots. He fell two saves short of Wade Flaherty’s franchise record set in 1995’s Game 7, first round victory in Calgary.
“He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win,” said Matt Carle.
“This was a great confidence builder for Vesa,” said Wilson. “This game won’t bother him at all.”
Jonathan Cheechoo, who led the Sharks with six shots, almost put the game-winner home on a feed from Joe Thornton
. The Dwayne Roloson plucked the puck from mid-air that was heading for the corner.
“He hesitated a bit,” said Wilson. “It was a nice save. There were other chances. Joe hit the post.”
Georges Laraque was assessed a five-minute major penalty and given a game misconduct for planting Cheechoo face first into the boards, cutting Moose Factory’s favorite son.
“I didn’t see him coming and then my face hit the glass,” said Cheechoo. “The referee had a better view than me.”
The Sharks and Oilers will play again on Friday on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.