Remember that second period in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between San Jose and Calgary? That’s when San Jose set a franchise record for most shots in a period of a playoff game (27) and scored the game’s lone two goals on a power play that lasted nearly four minutes.
Fast forward to Tuesday night’s decisive Game Seven. Once again, the second period played a big role in another Sharks win.
The fun began after ex-Sharks forward Owen Nolan scored on a breakaway to give Calgary a 2-1 lead after the first three-and-a-half minutes of the period.
Two-and-a-half minutes later, center Jeremy Roenick shot the puck from the left point, kept the puck on the ice and with forward Devin Setoguchi acting as a screen and the puck went past him and through the legs of Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to tie the score.
“Sometimes you get a little lucky,” Roenick said about his first goal. “It was just getting a shot on net. Sometimes it goes in. You never know what can happen.”
Roenick answered again exactly three minutes later on the power play when he got the rebound off his wrist shot and put the puck top shelf.
“I got it on net, followed the rebound and was fortunate enough to catch a piece of the corner,” he said.
Almost five minutes passed when center Joe Pavelski
scored and then 52 seconds later, Setoguchi got his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal.
To sum it up, the Sharks scored four goals in eight minutes and 49 seconds. That’s the most San Jose has scored in a period at home in a playoff game.
“You can’t ask for more than that,” goaltender Evgeni Nabokov said about San Jose’s second period goal scoring rampage. “After they scored the second goal, we responded well.”
“It was exciting,” Setoguchi said. “Everyone wants to go out there when you have the momentum. We just kept putting pucks on the net and moved our feet.”
“We just kept coming,” Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson said. “The second period was essentially a continuation of the first. The first period was our best. We outshot them, 14-5. The important thing for our team was not to lose our poise when we went down 2-1. We didn’t and kept hammering away and got ourselves back in the game.”
A MESSAGE TO THE CRITICS
Many media pundits questioned the Sharks efforts through the Western Conference Quarterfinals. After all, they’re the team that’s been picked by many to play hosts to a Stanley Cup parade in June.
But the No. 2 seeded Sharks needed seven games to dispatch No. 7 seed Calgary.
Like any series, this one had its moments. There was the second period in Game Two, which is mentioned above. San Jose opened Game Three by scoring three goals within the first three-and-a-half minutes, but lost. In Game Six, Calgary shutout the Sharks, who were very embarrassed after being outplayed and out hit.
However in the end, San Jose rebounded from the lackluster performance in Game Six and won the first Game Seven ever played in San Jose. They outshot Calgary, 41-22. The Sharks also dominated in the faceoff circle, 61 to 39 percent.
“When we needed it,” center Joe Thornton
said, “we dug down and got it done. That’s the sign of a very good hockey team. We played hard for 60 minutes. We know we have a lot of good character guys in here.”
“We wanted to prove to our critics that they were wrong,” Pavelski said. “It went seven games, but that’s what it took.”
“We stuck with it and pulled it off,” center and Captain Patrick Marleau
said. “We have to take this confidence and move on.”
“I have to compliment everybody,” Wilson said. “Tonight, we were as dominant as can be in a Game Seven. I’m very proud that our team played its best hockey when it mattered most.”
Wilson also gave props to his two centers, Thornton and Marleau. The pair have been the targets of criticism at various times in the series. Thornton scored the game’s first goal, had three takeaways and won 56 percent of his faceoffs. Marleau has endeared his teammates through his gritty play in the seven games.
“For the Joe Thorntons and Patty Marleaus who’ve received a lot of criticism for not performing when it mattered most,” he said, “those guys were giants tonight.”
Many of the Sharks said they’ll enjoy the win and then get back to work on Thursday after taking Wednesday off. But when they come back, the intensity and focus has to return as only a quarter of the job has been completed.
“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves,” Nabokov said. “We made a good step up and now we have to keep it up and elevate our game even more. In order to go through the second round, we have to play better.”
Marcel Goc, who had not played all series, was a late insertion into Tuesday’s Game 7.
“I found out in the meeting before the game,” said Goc. “They told everyone to come ready. I was pretty pumped. I have been waiting to get in.”
The Sharks players enjoyed the noise that the HP Pavilion fans provided all night.
“It was their first Game 7 and they blew away everyone’s expectations in here,” said Thornton.
Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
loved the night, but would rather it not take so long in the future.
“We don’t want to give them (the fans) too many Game 7’s,” said Marleau.
Still the Game 7 was fun for Marleau.
“You’ve played this game in your head a million times,” said Marleau.
When a lot of goals are scored, the netminding can sometimes be overlooked, but the Sharks players knew that Evgeni Nabokov was critical in Game 7.
“He played great,” said Thornton. “He made the saves when he needed to make the saves.”
MORE TO COME
Nabokov openly challenged his teammates following a loss in Calgary, but noted the series victory was the start of a change.
“It’s too early to draw any conclusions about this team,” said Nabokov. “There is still a lot of work ahead of us. We responded this round and now we have to answer those questions again.”
San Jose will host Dallas in Game 1 of Round 2 at 7 p.m. The game will be on 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com with the television schedule still to be announced.