The timing was right for a momentum swing in the 2006 Playoffs Presented by Intersil on Sunday night.
San Jose was coming home, where they had won four straight in the postseason. They had home ice advantage with two of a potential three remaining games at HP Pavilion. They were playing before a typical sellout crowd of 17,496, arguably one of the loudest in the National Hockey League.
Even though the Sharks were down 2-1 entering the third period and despite a short handed goal by Shawn Horcoff 12 seconds into the period, there was a chance for a change in the big “M.”
After all, the Sharks had outshot the Oilers, 17-7, through the first 40 minutes. They had outhit Edmonton, 23-14, and had an edge in faceoff wins, 21-17. The hits and the faceoffs had been problems for San Jose in the series.
Christian Ehrhoff scored just the second power play goal of the series for the Sharks at 44 seconds, followed by Jonathan Cheechoo’s even-strength goal almost two minutes after.
However, 93 seconds later, Fernando Pisani and Horcoff came down on a 2-on-1. Horcoff passed the puck from the left to Pisani on the right and he put the shot past Vesa Toskala for the go-ahead and game-winning goal. Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth followed with power play goals, but Pisani’s tally probably sealed San Jose’s fate.
“Nobody likes to give up a shorthanded goal, especially at that time, and go down by two,” Kyle McLaren said. “But I thought we responded well and got two quick goals to get back in the game. For some reason, we couldn’t sustain the momentum.”
The hockey “experts” will probably say Edmonton now has the edge. They’ve won three straight – the triple-overtime thriller last Wednesday and consecutive 6-3 wins in Edmonton on Friday and San Jose on Sunday. And they’ll be playing Game Six at Rexall Place this coming Wednesday.
But the men in the Sharks locker room feel differently. “We’ve got tomorrow to regroup and get our focus back,” Ehrhoff said. “We have a good team and the people to turn this series around.”
Having a positive and resilient attitude will also help.
“Nothing bothers our hockey club,” Ville Nieminen said. “We’ll go there (Edmonton) to play Game Six and then we’ll come back here to play Game Seven.
“All of the pressure is on them (Oilers),” he continued. “We’re going to have a good game plan and it won’t get any better than to play Game Seven at The Shark Tank.”
“We’ve got to stay positive,” McLaren said. “We still have two more games to play. We have to win a tough game on the road. We have to stay positive and support each other.” Joe Thornton
also knows how he needs to contribute on Wednesday night in Edmonton.
“Score some goals, make some plays and help the team win,” he said.
HE SHOOTS, HE SCORES!
Ehrhoff’s power play goal at 44 seconds of the third period broke a serious man-advantage drought for the Sharks. Entering the game, San Jose had scored just once in 20 tries. In fact, they had failed to connect in seven tries during the first 40 minutes.
Cause for celebration? Considering that Horcoff scored a shortie 12 seconds into the period, the timing certainly wasn’t right. Ehrhoff and his teammates had a subdued celebration. “It wasn’t a good time to celebrate,” Ehrhoff said. “We just got back to a one goal deficit.”