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Momentum swing?
Edmonton's 3 OT win a huge victory
5/11/06 - By John Cook

With the San Jose Sharks holding a two game series lead in Game 3 of their semifinal series against the Edmonton Oilers, they looked for the stranglehold at Rexall Place. Edmonton had other ideas, however. Raffi Torres scored late in the third period to send the game into overtime, and from there, one of the greatest games of the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs was about to unfold.

Edmonton, like they did in the opening period, came out flying in the first overtime period. The Oilers through shot after shot on net, but Vesa Toskala had an answer every time. Even when Christian Ehrhoff was sent off for holding, the Sharks stood tall and killed the penalty.

In the second overtime, the Sharks had a great chance to end it when Joe Thornton found Jonathan Cheechoo streaking toward the net. The hard wrist shot was heading toward the top corner, until Dwayne Roloson slid across and robbed the Maurice Richard trophy winner.

The game ended at 12:41 MT when Shawn Horcoff slammed in a Ryan Smyth wrap-around pass by Toskala at 2:24 of the third overtime, ending the longest game in Sharks franchise history.

Does the outcome of Game 3 turn the entire series around? Let's take a look at past overtime losses involving the Sharks.

The first playoff overtime game in Sharks history was in Game 6 of the 1994 semifinals against Toronto. With the Sharks needing just one goal to advance to the conference finals in only their third year of existence, it never came. The game will be remembered by most as the game where Sandis Ozolinsh took a pass in the high-slot with nothing but the net and Felix Potvin in front of him. Instead of shooting, he passed the puck back to Igor Larionov in the corner, blowing a great chance to end the series. Earlier in the overtime period, Johan Garpenlov's blast from the blueline beat Potvin, but clanged off the crossbar. Mike Gartner ended the contest at 8:53 of overtime to tie the series, and the Maple Leafs won Game 7 to advance.

A pivotal Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues in 2001, found the Sharks leading by a goal late in the third period. With the Sharks trying to protect the lead to take a three games to two series lead, Pierre Turgeon tied the score late in the third period, before Bryce Salvadore fired a blistering slapshot past Miikka Kiprusoff's outstretched glove in overtime, sending the Savvis Center crowd into delirium. The Blues took Game 6 back in San Jose to avenge their series loss the year before.

The Sharks have shown their ability to bounce back after a tough defeat. In 1999, after dropping the first game against the Colorado Avalanche, Milan Hedjuk beat Mike Vernon in overtime, sending the Avalanche back to Colorado for three straight home games (due to the Columbine tragedy) with a two games to none series lead. San Jose rebounded with wins in Games 3 and 4, only to drop Game 5.

Hedjuk was at it again with the dramatics, as he netted the series-winning overtime goal in Game 6. The Sharks had their chances earlier in the overtime when Vincent Damphousse hit the post on a wraparound attempt 30 seconds in and Bill Houlder hit the post during a powerplay after Dale Hunter took a double-minor high sticking penalty drawing blood on Houlder.

More recently, the Sharks semifinal series against Colorado in the 2004 playoffs saw San Jose take a three games to none series lead. Games 4 and 5 ended on Joe Sakic goals, the all-time leader in career playoff overtime winners. Heading back to Colorado for Game 6, the Sharks looked to be dead in the water, but Marcel Goc and Cheechoo had other ideas as they scored two quick goals midway through the second period to lead the Sharks to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

If history is any indication, the Sharks have shown that they can bounce back from tough defeats. This year's version of Team Teal is hungry to go farther than they ever have before. In order to do that, they must shake off Game 3 and look for a stronger effort in Game 4. This is now the biggest game of the series. A win by the Sharks puts them in the driver's seat and gives them a chance to close out the series on Sunday, giving all mothers a wonderful gift on their day of honor. An Edmonton win makes it a best-of-three series, with the Sharks having home ice advantage for two of the three games.

Do the playoffs get any better than this? The nervous pit in your stomach and the racing heartbeat you get from watching a playoff overtime game is like nothing else. As fans, we cannot decide the outcome on the ice, but merely watch as everything unfolds and cheer our boys on. Nothing has been decided and so much can still happen.

The drama of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Nothing else compares.



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