The name “Joe” is synonymous with success in Bay Area sports history.
Joe Montana. Joe DiMaggio. And of course, Joe Thornton
For one game heroics, you can add Joe Pavelski
to the list.
The Sharks center picked the perfect time to score his team-leading fifth goal of the postseason - at 1:05 of overtime. Pavelski’s shot from the right faceoff circle gave San Jose a 3-2 win over Dallas in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Sharks may be down one game, but clearly have momentum in the series.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling to score a goal like that,” Pavelski said. “I haven’t scored one in overtime in awhile like that.”
“We knew ‘Pavs’ was going to put it in,” center Jeremy Roenick said with a smile. “All that kid does is score goals.”
“I knew he was going to turn around and fire it,” said Captain Patrick Marleau
, who was on the ice for the winner screening Marty Turco. “I was just trying to go to the net. It was one heck of a shot, for sure.”
“It was overtime and I didn’t want to over-commit right away,” Pavelski said about his shot. “He (Turco) went down, committed and I was able to go around him and (the open space) was there.”
Pavelski’s goal was a result of San Jose’s game plan for the overtime. Two of San Jose’s three losses in the series came in the extra period and this time, the Sharks worked hard to create opportunities.
“The previous two overtimes, we had one chance against them and they had 10,” Pavelski said. “They worked to make their bounces. (The plan was) Let’s get a few shots, one’s bound to go in. Turco’s played great, but he’s bound to make a mistake sooner or later.”
Coach Ron Wilson said that Pavelski’s goal wouldn’t have come about if defenseman Christian Ehrhoff didn’t pinch along the left wing boards. He cut in front of Dallas forward Niklas Hagman, kept the puck away from him and that allowed Pavelski to grab it near the hashmarks, circled towards the slot and fired a wrist shot past Turco.
“If it was the first period,” Wilson said, “Christian would’ve been standing at the red line with the rest of our D waiting for something bad to happen. He was really aggressive, got early position and kept the puck alive. We had a good forecheck going and it happened early in the shift.”
Pavelski’s goal completed an amazing three-goal comeback. The Sharks entered the final 20 minutes down 2-0 and facing elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Pavelski is no stranger to dramatics as a member of the Sharks. The day before Thanksgiving in 2006, he had to fly cross-country to make his National Hockey League debut the same night and wound up scoring his first NHL goal just hours after landing in San Jose.
A few weeks later, Pavelski scored the game-winning goal with six seconds left to give San Jose a win in Detroit. That victory was just the third regular season win for the Sharks at Joe Louis Arena.
This year, Pavelski set a career high with 19 goals. In the postseason, he scored three goals in the quarterfinals vs. Calgary, including two game-winners.
“He goes to those dirty areas (in the slot and in front of the net) to score,” Marleau said. “He’s got a pretty accurate shot. When he gets those chances, he usually finds the back of the net. He’s been big through the playoffs.”
There may be a reason why Pavelski stays cool when the heat is on: experience in pressure situations.
His high school team in Wisconsin won the state title. Pavelski’s Midget 16AAA team won the national championship. He helped his United States Hockey League (Junior A) club win the national title. And Pavelski was a member of the NCAA Champion University of Wisconsin team.
“That’s a guy who you want to have the puck on his stick,” Wilson said. “Pavs shows a lot of poise and has a great shot.”
And as the Sharks continue to be part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and even in the future, one gets the feeling Pavelski won’t be just another Joe on the roster.
“He’s getting a reputation as a go-to guy,” Roenick said. “He’s a guy who comes through in big situations. That’s all you can ask for out of a young kid – to make a name for himself and that’s what he’s doing.”
Could it be that even with a one game lead, the Sharks now have a bit of an advantage?
“I think there’s a little bit of doubt in [Dallas’s] mind,” said Wilson. “This doesn’t happen very often. I heard them say on Versus after the game that we’re the first team in 19 years to be down two in the third period in an elimination game and come back to find a way to win. So, we’ve done a lot of things that are great for our character, show that we have it; we dug in.”
Wilson likes what the Sharks have shown in rally for two straight wins.
“There were times when we showed our nerves and some of our younger players showed their youth, but we survived,” said Wilson. “The second half of the third period, we really took it to them, and that’s how we wanted to play the overtime, not worry about making mistakes. The other two overtimes, Dallas came at us really hard, and we were sitting back, waiting for them to make a mistake. We decided tonight, we’ll pace, we’ll go like heck to try to win the game quick.”
DALLAS HEAD COACH DAVE TIPPETT
“I love the way our team battles through adversity, but those were two critical -- critical -- points in the game where I still haven’t seen ‘a distinct kicking motion’ but I guess someone else did, but the other one I agree with. I agree with no goal on the play, but if Morrow isn’t cross-checked in the back he would have put the puck down and in the back of the net.”
“I think this will definitely motivate our guys… We did some good things tonight… We made a couple errors that gave them some breaks. We have a chance to close out the series at home.”
Game 6 between San Jose and Dallas will be at 6 p.m. on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjharks.com.