For the sixth time in the series, the Sharks played well enough to win. But for the fourth time in the series, the Sharks were on the wrong side of the final score and were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the division rival Dallas Stars early on Monday morning in Dallas.
Game Six’s final score, 2-1 (4OT), was a microcosm of the series. Two teams so evenly matched, only an odd-manned goal in the in the seventh period could differentiate the two.
Four of the six games were decided in sudden-death overtime; five of the games separated by a lone tally. And Sunday night’s Game Six was the first game in the series in which the team that scored first ended up securing the game.
“I think as a player, there’s no consolation in how well you played or how long the game went,” veteran Curtis Brown said after the game. “At the end of the night, it’s a terrible outcome for us and a fantastic one for them. The first team to four wins is all that really matters in the playoffs.”
Perhaps overshadowed by the game’s length and subsequent outcome were the individual moments and plays that defined the closely contested Game Six. Evgeni Nabokov’s glove save on Brad Richards in the first overtime would surely have been a focal point if the game’s end result would have been different. Yet for the Sharks and Head Coach Ron Wilson, those plays don’t hold a lot of meaning.
“Every loss is tough,” said Wilson in his postgame press conference. “It’s the end of the series. It doesn’t matter how we played, but I’m very proud of our team. We get questioned on character: it’s almost one person mentions it and the whole dang group of media jumps on it instead of doing their homework. We showed character all season long. We showed character in the first series and this series; incredible character, but we lost.”
Veteran forward Jeremy Roenick agreed with his coach’s assessment of the character in the Sharks locker room.
“You can’t say we didn’t leave everything on the ice,” said Roenick. “We came, we worked and we had a lot of opportunities to win this hockey game. They got the better break. It’s frustrating, but this team worked hard. This team showed a lot of character and battled, battled and battled. It could have gone either way. They’re a good hockey team, they’re a very good hockey team. They stayed with it. It was a hell of a night, that’s for sure.”
Captain Patrick Marleau
, who rebounded from a sub-par regular season by his high standards, was exceptional in the playoffs, playing with a “do as I do” leadership style. The Captain was knocked down in the Calgary series, but got up time and time again, leading his team to a seven-game victory.
When his team had their backs against the wall in this series, he responded with a shorthanded goal to pick them up, twice. And though his team was dismissed in six games, battling back to a Game Six showed the resolve that the team played with throughout the playoffs.
“A lot of teams would have rolled over after being down 3-0 and we battle back and won a couple of games,” said Marleau. “We played two games tonight basically and we were right there. We obviously felt that we could come back having tied the game up there and taking the play to them for most of the third period and first overtime. You know it’s tough to come up short.”
Wilson told reporters that he did not address his team as a group following the loss, but through his postgame comments it was clear the coach was proud of his team that had play with a one fewer player than their opponents after Milan Michalek was sidelined with an injury at the end of regulation.
“For most of the game we carried the play,” he said. “We have nothing to hang our heads in shame over. We showed character and we kept coming. We were down a player, obviously. Milan got hurt at the end of regulation. We had to play the overtime without him: a whole game with a short bench, and our guys just kept going and going. A ton of chances and they got the break they needed with that power play.”
“It’s very disappointing,” said Brown. “Obviously we had higher expectations and hopes than what we did this year. We gave it our all, but that wasn’t enough. They won a couple more overtime games and that was the difference.”REWRITING THE RECORD BOOKS
In addition to setting a new record for the longest game in the team’s 17-year history, the Sharks also set a number of other playoff records. Below are a few of the records achieved on Sunday night in Dallas.Longest Game
129:03, passing 102:24 on May 10, 2006 against Edmonton [2-3 L (3OT)]Most Shots For
62, passing 52 on May 9, 2004 against Calgary [3-4 L (OT)]Most Shots By Both Teams
114, passing 92 on May 9, 2004 against Calgary [3-4 L (OT)]Most Shots Faced in OT
32, passing 31 on May 9, 2004 against Calgary [3-4 L (OT)]Most Shots For in OT
31, passing 19 on May 19, 1995 against Calgary [5-4 W (2OT)]Most Minutes in a Game
129:03, Evgeni Nabokov passing 102:24 by Vesa Toskala on May 10, 2006 against Edmonton [2-3 L (3OT)]
Though unable to be confirmed based on information readily available in the press box following Game Six, defenseman Brian Campbell in all likelihood set a new Sharks record for most minutes by a skater logging a game-high 56:23 of ice time.
THEY SAID ITHead Coach Ron Wilson
“They got a power play goal. Those guys (Morrow, Ribeiro and Lehtonen) are dangerous on the power play. Same with Mike Modano. They’ve got a great power play and they showed that in the Anaheim series. I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting their opportunities and it’s just a shame that’s how we had to lose the game, but there’s nothing you can do about it.
“We ask everybody to play hard on our team and I thought they did. Everybody did a great job defensively. We don’t cover one line with a set line, we ask everybody to do it. Especially when you have road games, you can’t control your matchups. It showed tonight why we finished where we did and how good defensively we are. But Turco had our number on those, a boat-load of chances. When you’re on the road and you completely out-chance a team like we did in overtime, it’s saying something about your team, especially with one of your better offensive guys out of the lineup. But it’s over so you have to move on.”Forward Jeremy Roenick
“Starting the fourth, fifth, sixth period... I kind of loose track; I felt as good as I did in the second. A 38 year old guy in the sixth period, that’s a good sign I think.
“It’s just really fitting, to be in a fight like this. To be head-to-head against a guy that you totally have so much respect for, a guy you look up to and another guy that has worked so hard to put American hockey on the map and you know, a true warrior in every sense of the word. I think Mike and I have a very close bond because of what we’ve gone through in our careers. To be going at it back and forth like we did this series, you just want to tell him that you love him and good luck. I wish the best for Mike Modano every day he steps on the ice. Whether it’s against me or not against me, I think that’s just the respect we have for one another.”