Memories are waiting to be made as the Sharks return home from Edmonton with a first-round playoff series tied 1-1.
The Tank will be rocking at its white towel-waving best in anticipation of adding to a list of great playoff moments inside the building on the corner of West Santa Clara and North Autumn streets in downtown San Jose.
Who can forget as recent as last spring when rookie winger Joonas Donskoi circled out front and went top shelf 12:18 into overtime to give the Sharks a first ever Stanley Cup Final win in Game 3 over Pittsburgh. The volume of noise inside SAP Center was deafening.
It was a similar feeling nearly 19 years ago when on April 28, 1998 defenseman Andrei Zyuzin's low half-slapper from the edge of the right circle beat Ed Belfour and the Dallas Stars to end what had been a scoreless Game 4 until the 6:31 mark of sudden death to tie a second-round series. The building shook as much as Randy Hahn's invigorating call for television viewers.
And there was maybe the longest sustained playoff ovation that coincidentally occurred during the only other time the Sharks and Oilers have met in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It happened on May 8, 2006 in the second period of Game 2 with the Sharks holding a tenuous 1-0 lead after having won the second-round series opener.
San Jose had the task of killing an Edmonton power play while down not one, but two skaters for as much as 1:41. Little did defensemen Kyle McLaren, Scott Hannan and forward Mark Smith know what they were in for as the Oilers sent out Jared Stoll, Fernando Pisani, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth and Chris Pronger.
The Houdini-like kill with Vesa Toskala protecting the hosts' goal went like this:
- Edmonton passes puck around perimeter for 40 seconds before Stoll's shot is stopped by Toskala. McLaren gathers rebound but his attempted clear fails;
- Stoll fires on goal, Toskala makes a save and McLaren attempts a backhand clear while falling but it's held in the zone. Hannan breaks his stick on scramble in front with still 45 seconds remaining on the kill;
- Stoll's attempt with 30 seconds left goes wide, Smith's stick breaks as the Sharks are down to only one penalty killer (McLaren) with a stick;
The Oilers had four more attempts, two on goal, one wide and finally a block by Smith, who kills the remaining second by diving headlong to push the puck out of the zone and down the ice as the two-man kill expires and the roof is nearly blown off by the crowd's wildly supportive response.
Afterward, then Sharks coach Ron Wilson described the sequence like this: "That was like the black knight from Monty Python. Pieces were falling off everywhere."
One thing that's sure to bring Sharks fans out of their seats this time of the year is playoff wins at home. And San Jose rewarded its faithful last spring by winning eight of 12 games on home ice including a Game 7 second-round triumph over Nashville.
"We can take positives in the fact we got the split and just need to win at home," goalie Martin Jones said after Friday night's Game 2 loss at Edmonton.
"We came here and got a split. Now we get ready for Game 3," coach Peter DeBoer echoed. Tomorrow's memories are just waiting to be made.