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Overtime Suits Sharks Just Fine

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, top, is scored on by San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe as center Brad Richardson reacts during an third period in Game 3 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series, Tuesday, April 19, 2011, in Los Angeles. The Sharks won 6-5. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Playing beyond 60 minutes was a topic entering the Sharks-Kings series. San Jose went 3-1-2 against L.A. this season with two of the Kings wins coming via the shootout. However, the shootout isn’t a factor in the postseason and overtimes aren’t 4-on-4 and only five minutes in length.


The Sharks have used their talents to find ways to eventually win when the game is extended.

“It’s the playoffs,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “Whatever hand you’re dealt, you’ve got to be prepared to play long and hard.”

“It’s something we talk about. We have to stick with it for as long as it takes,” Patrick Marleau said. “You have to keep going because you never know when the final play will be, but we’re comfortable we’ll be there.”

For now, the Sharks have been able to do it in just one overtime period, but they know it could take longer.

“You look at all the NHL commercials now and you look at Bob Mason and Pat Flatley playing in that four-overtime game and the effort and the will it took,” McLellan said of the two the 1987 division semifinal series between Washington (Mason) and the Islanders (Flatley). “The year we won the Calder Cup, Hamilton and ourselves (Houston), we went to four overtime periods. You find heroes, you find players that can play beyond what they think they can. If we get in that situation, that’s what we expect from those guys.”

Members of the San Jose Sharks celebrate a game-winning goal by right wing Devin Setoguchi during an overtime period in Game 3 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series against the Los Angeles Kings, Tuesday, April 19, 2011, in Los Angeles. The Sharks won 6-5. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
San Jose just seems mentally prepared for the extended hockey sessions and has won by finding a way to put the sudden death tally across the goal line. Just like fans in the stands or those following electronically, they know that even the simplest of shots can be the difference.

“Anytime you throw the puck at the net, it could go in,” Marleau said.

“Definitely, that’s the case,” Ian White said. “Any shot can go in and any error can cost your team the game, so every player is trying to play the perfect game without turning the puck over and still trying to be somewhat aggressive. You’ve got to shoot everything and every puck has a chance of going in. Over the years, you’ve seen so many ugly goals end it. Every shot is a good shot.”

That two of the three games in this series have gone to overtime isn’t surprising to the Sharks.

“You expect it to happen. The playoffs are so close and every team is so good,” Logan Couture said. “It’s one goal, one mistake, one big play that can win you a game.”

For the players, the fun is that everyone has the opportunity to be the hero. Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi are the chosen ones so far.

“It’s huge when guys step up and score that big goal for our team,” Couture said. “Guys step up and can be heroes.”

San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski, center, scores on Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, right, as defenseman Drew Doughty defends during the first period in Game 3 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series, Tuesday, April 19, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
“Score or go home” makes for the most intense situations and the Sharks thoroughly enjoy the bonus hockey.

“The most exciting time to play is overtime,” Setoguchi said. “Every chance you get is a potential goal.”

The Sharks know they have to play smarter as their bodies have the wear and tear of the previous 60 minutes.

“You’ve got to take it shift-by-shift,” Setoguchi said. “You never want to get caught out there too long. You know you’re going right back out there. We played with three lines from the second period on and the guys were getting tired. You have to simplify your game. Shoot the puck as much as you can because you never know when it will go in.”

To combat the physical tiredness, the players try to refuel during the intermissions.

“Guys definitely have the fruit, bananas, the gels,” Setoguchi said. “You don’t want to eat too much, but you’ve got to feed your body. You’re sweating pretty hard out there and losing a lot of electrolytes and fluids. You’ve got to make sure to put it back in your body.”

JUMBO IS THE LEADER
With his team down, and not far from out, McLellan pointed to a specific player who helped lead the way vocally.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, right, is scored on by San Jose Sharks right wing Devin Setoguchi (not seen) as center Michal Handzus, center, of Slovakia and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton looks on during an overtime period in Game 3 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series, Tuesday, April 19, 2011, in Los Angeles. The Sharks won 6-5. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
“I think it starts with your captain, he was vocal between periods, saying the right things,” McLellan said about Joe Thornton. “I thought his effort, the very first forecheck in the second period, he went in and got the opportunity to shoot the puck once or twice in the offensive zone and everybody else followed. Patty Marleau scores the first one. There was a lot of talk before Game 3 about those players needing to produce and they found a way. As a result, we win.”

THE REASON WHY

Coaches rarely show much emotion from behind the bench, even though they’re running the gamut of feelings just like their players. In fact, McLellan and his staff were rather stoic until Setoguchi’s game-winner.

“It’s why we’re gray and the blood pressure is up,” McLellan said with a smile.

THREE ON A MATCH

McLellan noted after Game 3 he was primarily using three lines to attack the two lines of defense the Kings were rolling. The trio of Scott Nichol, Jamal Mayers and Ben Eager skated just 6:45 combined on the night. It was due part to the nature of the game and partly due to the group each being minus-2 in their limited time.

“A little bit of both,” McLellan said. “I felt we needed to roll three lines and get our (offensive) guys going at every opportunity. Most of our offensive players are on those top three lines and they needed to be on the ice more than our grinders. We had some concerns heading into overtime that we were going to run out of gas. We had plans to spot individuals through on different lines, but it was still going to be a three-line night for us. We thought we were a three-line team and they were a four D-man team down the stretch.”

THE MAN IN THE NET

There were questions of whether McLellan would stick with Antero Niittymaki over Antti Niemi, but McLellan quickly quieted any potential controversy.

Los Angeles Kings left wing Ryan Smyth, right, scores on San Jose Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki of Finland during the second period in Game 3 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series, Tuesday, April 19, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
“We’ll talk about that,” McLellan said. “We’re confident in both of them. When you look at Nemo’s record when we pulled him in the season, he always responded very well. If we go that route, which I think we’re leaning towards, we expect him to be very good.”

“I think Nemo is going to be the goalie,” Niittymaki said, pointing out it wasn’t what he was told, but just his belief.

WIRED FOR SOUND
So many of the players were still jacked up long after the game concluded and had a little trouble sleeping.

“It’s tough. (I was) just rolling around in bed until about 3:30,” Couture said of his attempt at sleeping. “We’ll have a little nap today and get some rest.”

RING-A-DING-DING
Setoguchi’s phone was off the hook with calls and texts after his dramatic winner.

“There was quite a few, I didn’t answer them all back,” Setoguchi said.

NO SHOTS
The Sharks scored quickly to end the overtime in Game 3, but the Kings had no chances for the victory as they didn’t register an overtime shot.

NO NEED FOR DRAMATICS
McLellan appreciated the historical significance of what his club accomplished, but he would point out there was a reason they need the comeback.

“The first thing we’ll remind our players is that we were down 4-0,” McLellan said. “I think we all remember the back end of the game and the ability to come back and the character we showed in doing it. We also were down 4-0 and they have to be reminded of that. We have to point out some of the things we didn’t do very well in the game. That will be what we address off the ice, on the ice there’s some technical stuff we have to talk about, but that’s a daily thing in the playoffs.”


HERE WE GO AGAIN
Game 4 will be at 7:30 p.m. from Los Angeles on Thursday. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 K-FOX and www.sjsharks.com.


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