One game a series does not make.
But in the case of Wednesday's opener of this best-of-seven First Round, several young San Jose forwards are breathing easier now that they put their best skate forward at the outset of postseason.
The Sharks got significant contributions from across the board and - for the eighth time in club history - overcame a multi-goal deficit to win a Stanley Cup playoff game with a 3-2 overtime decision over the host Edmonton Oilers.
There was center Tomas Hertl not only providing the primary assist on defenseman Paul Martin's third-period game-tying goal, but filling out his stat line quite significantly. Hertl pumped seven shots on goal - more than twice as many as any other Sharks forward besides Joel Ward's four - applied two hits to separate the puck from an Oiler, was guilty of only one giveaway and re-established his dominance in the faceoff circle by winning 11 of 15 draws (73 percent).
"I thought he was a beast out there," DeBoer said. "He was awesome. He's a big man, this is his type of hockey. He was dominant. And we're going to need more of that from him." There was Chris Tierney, who like he did last postseason, raised his game noticeably Wednesday when the Sharks were without Joe Thornton and Logan Couture appeared for the first time in eight games. Tierney managed two shots, a pair of blocks, two hits and a takeaway in addition to winning three of five draws over his nearly 13 minutes of ice time.
Second-year winger Joonas Donskoi supplied the second assist on Ward's key power-play goal early in the second period to halt momentum the Oilers had following a two-goal first. Rookie Marcus Sorensen used his excellent speed over his 10:51 to keep Edmonton on the outside, and logged 1:30 on a San Jose penalty kill that after allowing an early goal stymied the hosts when it mattered most.
Fellow rookie Timo Meier brought all of 34 games of NHL experience into his first postseason, but he didn't appear out of place one bit. He put three shots on goal, managed a takeaway and skated all but 11 seconds of 10:35 at even strength while using his physical tools to dole out four hits.
"That's something he brings to the table," DeBoer said of the 6-foot, 210-pound Swiss-born winger. "Making out our lineup we felt he was a guy who wouldn't be intimidated on the road in a tough building. He came as advertised."
And, of course, there was the OT hero Melker Karlsson, who in addition to lasering that game-winner from the left circle 3:22 into sudden death past Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot also blocked two shots, applied three hits and had another shot on goal during his 14:35 of ice time lining up on even strength alongside Couture and Joe Pavelski.
Video: SJS@EDM, Gm1: Karlsson snaps home overtime winner
"One of the best compliments any player can get is when you ask other players who they want to play with and he's the guy whose name gets mentioned," DeBoer said. "That's the ultimate compliment. He's as honest a player there is. He plays a 200-foot game, and he's a big part of the team."
What quality depth the youngsters provided wasn't as much of a surprise as a relief considering how the team was missing some of that down the stretch. If San Jose continues to get similar contributions, they could be set up for another long spring run.
"We understand what those guys can do," Pavelski said. "Those guys' games just got better and better as the night went on. As they settled in, it was big for our team."