“He was a difference maker tonight,” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan began. “The way we played him in the series and the amount of minutes he got, we obviously believed in him immensely. For him to end up with the winning goal it pretty special for our team and for him. I think the monkey will be off his back and he’ll be that much better the next series.”
It was an example of a top tier player coming up in a top tier way.
“When you look at the third one that ended up being the winner, we were on our heels,” McLellan said. “Your top end players have to go out and settle the game down . . . for Patty to score there, I thought we settled down after that a little bit.”
|Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard watches the replay after the San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau during the third period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. San Jose won 3-2, and advances to the conference final. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) |
Marleau stayed quiet when he was questioned externally previously and simply talked about the game when he spoke.
“It’s right up there,” Marleau said of where the goal ranks. “All playoff goals are fun. It felt really good, I won’t lie.”
The players were excited to see one of their clubhouse leaders come up when they needed him.
“The one guy who has been taking heat all series long comes out with the game winner, that’s a script,” Dan Boyle
“It was great to see him score the winner,” Logan Couture
said. “We were happy for him and I’m sure it was a little bit of weight off his shoulders.”
While Marleau wouldn’t address it, his teammates were happy that some outside commentators were silenced. Marleau is more than just a goal scorer for the Sharks, he a leader and a friend and many of the Sharks took assaults personally.
“We’re all happy, now you guys can stop getting on him,” Devin Setoguchi said. “He’s been doing a great job for us off the scoresheet. We believed in him and he got the game-winner for us and clinched the series which is the main thing.”
“We see what Patty does every day and not everyone in the outside world sees that,” Couture said. “We see how hard he works and how much he cares. He’s a great role model for the young guys on the team like myself. I look up to him a lot. It was tough to hear the stuff people were saying about him, but it doesn’t affect him. “
“He took some heat, but he showed what type of person he is and what he means to our team,” Joe Pavelski
|San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau, left, celebrates as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, right, skates past at the end of Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. San Jose won 3-2 to take the series and advance to the conference finals. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) |
Marleau will be credited the most for the game-winning goal in the Sharks first ever Game 7 victory in the Western Conference Semifinals, but it was when the game was on the line and Detroit had pulled their netminder to try and tie the contest that Marleau responded defensively. He knocked Eaves down and then made the final clear of the puck.
“He was there when we needed him to be,” Boyle said.
“Why wouldn’t we have him out there,” McLellan asked. “He’s a world class player. He’s won in a lot of pressure situations and we believe in him that much.”VANCOUVER
Within moments of winning, the Sharks players were already thinking about the Vancouver Canucks.
“We have an even more intense series waiting for us,” Couture said.
San Jose does have the experience they gained in the conference final last year to draw upon and that could be a benefit.
“We learned it wasn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be,” Setoguchi said. “We lost four games straight. I think being in that position, we’ll be a little more ready and a little more focused on the start. We don’t have home ice advantage, so we’ve got to go in there and play a really good hockey club and we need to make sure we’re focused to play the way we can.”CLOWE
|San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe, center, runs into Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during the first period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. At right is Brian Rafalski, and in front is Tomas Holmstrom. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) |
missed Game 6 with an upper body injury and his return to the lineup was an emotional lift for the Sharks.
“I felt good,” Clowe said. “I was finishing my hits, or tried to, and going into corners.”
His linemate Couture was very grateful for his return.
“He just makes smart plays,” Couture said. “He fed me the puck that I hit the post on. He’s a leader. I can’t say enough great things about him. It’s just great to have him back.”
Clowe’s teammates were aware of his return the morning of the game.
“This morning after the skate I talked to him and asked him if he was good to go,” Couture said. “That guy doesn’t like to miss games and he looked at me and said (yes). I was as happy as anyone was. We knew after the skate, after we talked to all you guys. He wanted to keep it a secret.”1ST
This marked the first series in NHL history in which six games were decided by one goal.GIVE ME FIVE
Setoguchi scored a goal and an assist, giving him five goals in his last five games. (5-2=6)LUCKY 11’s
Boyle added two assists and leads all defensemen in postseason points with eleven (2-9=11).
|San Jose Sharks right wing Dany Heatley (15) celebrates after the San Jose Sharks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2011, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) |
With his assist tonight, Thornton has eleven points (2-9=11) in his last eleven games. 3RD TIMES THE CHARM
The Sharks advanced to their third Western Conference Final. They previously accomplished the feat in 2004 and 2010.
SHARKS HEAD COACH TODD MCLELLAN
“The difference was our penalty kill and our power play goal.”
“In games and the series that I have been involved in the NHL, your heart gets going and revved up. I felt that this round. I told the players that we are going to need a little more poise and little more composure moving ahead because those feelings are going to come back a lot quicker.”
RED WINGS HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK
“It was a good game, I thought they skated better in the first than we did and yet I looked up with ten minutes had gone by and I thought we were doing a real good job. “
“We gave up the power play goal and I thought they took over for the rest of the first. We pushed the issue though and got back in it. I thought the goaltending was outstanding. We had 40 shots on net and they blocked another twenty five.”
“We’ve got to give them credit, they’re a good team. It was a good series, it was entertaining, it was fast, it was hard for any team to lead the other team. It was just one of those series, it was good.”NEXT GAME
Game One of the Western Conference Finals against the Vancouver Canucks will be on Sunday, May 15 at 5:00 p.m. The game can be found on Versus and 98.5/102.1 KFOX and the Sharks Radio Network.