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WCSF Game 7: Pavelski returns to lead SJ
Sharks captain scores a goal and adds an assist in 3-2 series clincher
5/8/19 - By Mike Lee -

When Joe Pavelski was laying on the ice in Game 7 of the Sharks Western Conference Quarter Final series with the Vegas Golden Knights, things looked bleak for the San Jose Sharks. Their captain was unconscious and they were trailing by 3 goals in the 3rd period. 15 days later, Pavelski made his return to a sheet of NHL ice and it couldn't have been more dramatic. Pavelski scored a goal and added an assist to lead the Sharks to a thrilling Game 7 victory over the Colorado Avalanche to punch San Jose's ticket to the Western Conference Finals and a date with the St Louis Blues.

San Jose jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the 2nd period on a Joonas Donskoi goal, then held on for a 3-2 win after Colorado scored early in the 3rd period.

It wasn't an easy win for San Jose, but it was a win nonetheless. The prevent mode approach to the 3rd period had the sellout crowd on the edge of their seats for most of the final 20 minutes, but it worked. The Avalanche out-shot San Jose 15-2 in the final period, but Martin Jones made the saves he needed to in order to propel the Sharks to the Conference Finals.

Things turned sour early for Colorado, when superstar Nathan MacKinnon was injured when he missed a check and hit the sideboard glass awkwardly. MacKinnon skated off on his own power, but it was obvious that he was favoring his right shoulder. Trainers taped the shoulder on the bench, but he missed most of the 1st period as he sat on the bench in obvious pain.

Erik Karlsson put the Sharks in a bit of a hole by taking a hooking penalty 1:22 into the game, but the Sharks penalty killers were clicking. Derek Brassard reciprocated by taking his own hooking penalty 18 seconds after the Sharks killed the Karlsson infraction, but Colorado was equal to the test.

The Sharks didn't score on the power play, but Pavelski would convert shortly after Brassard stepped back on the ice. With the Sharks captain parked on the inside edge of the right circle, Brent Burns fired a shot from the right point. Pavelski got his stick blade on the waist high shot, forcing it to a downward trajectory, bouncing the puck past Phillip Grubauer for the 1-0 Sharks lead.

Grubauer was sliding to his right, which was the proper angle to cutoff Burns' shot, but Pavelski redirect also pulled the puck back to the right side of the net, where it evaded the Avalanche goaltender.

The goal energized the SAP Center crowd, but Pavelski blew the doors off the place when he found Tomas Hertl with a pass at the 11:35 mark of the period. Hertl missed on a chance moments earlier, but the Sharks kept control of the puck on the forcecheck. Evander Kane wrapped the puck around the end boards to Pavelski who was cutting behind the net from right to left.

After receiving Kane's pass, Pavelski caught Hertl cutting to the net out of the corner of his head, before he sent a pass to the front of the net for a one-time chance that Hertl buried for his 9th goal of the playoffs.

Ian Cole was sent off for interfering with Pavelski 24 seconds after Hertl scored and the building was buzzing with the anticipation of a third goal, which would have put the Avalanche into a deep hole.

The weakest link in the Sharks game throughout the playoffs, the power play failed to take advantage of Cole's gift. Still, a 2-goal lead heading to the first intermission was a favorable position to be in, but the Avalanche had other ideas.

The upstart youngsters from Colorado played until the horn, and that allowed them to work themselves back into the game. With the final seconds ticking down on the period, Gabriel Landeskog skated the puck around the back of the Sharks net then sent a pass to the Samuel Girard at the blueline. Girard then fired a shot on got that Mikko Rantanen tipped past Jones with 6.8 seconds left in the period to cut the Sharks lead in half.

San Jose skated on their 3rd power play of the game 2 minutes into the 2nd period when Carl Soderberg was sent off for high sticking Joe Thornton. Once again the special teams play couldn't generate a goal, which was magnified minutes later when Colin Wilson appeared to tie the game with an uncontested shot from the slot.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer elected to challenge the play, citing offside. The gamble paid off for San Jose, after Landeskog was ruled offside earlier in the sequence. The Avalanche had forced a turnover just outside the Sharks blueline, but Landeskog was exiting the ice on a line change. He elected to step through the bench door that sits in the Sharks zone, and by waiting for the door to open rather than jumping over the boards, he was in fact offside.

The call turned into a huge swing, when Donskoi bagged his first goal of the playoffs 5 minutes later. The Sharks forward grabbed a puck out of the right corner then circled around the back of the net and back to the front, where he pivoted to the goal mouth and whipped a shot past Grubauer for the 3-1 lead.

Hertl just missed scoring a second goal when a late backhand chance from the front of the net hit Grubauer in the mask.

The period ended with the Sharks holding a 2-goal lead and out-shooting Colorado 25-14. They were in complete control of the game, but someone forgot to tell that to the Avalanche.

Colorado came out flying to start the 3rd period, which paid instant dividends. Tyson Jost cut the Sharks lead to 3-2 just 51 seconds into the final period, punching a deflection home for his 3rd goal of the playoffs. Alexander Kerfoot pumped a shot on net from the left side that Jones stopped, but the puck trickled over to the right side of the crease. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was stationed at the top of the crease, but he didn't react to the rebound as Jost swooped in from the right wing and swatted the puck home.

The goal energized the Avalanche, who went into attack mode. The Sharks responded by going into prevent mode, which elevated the level of anxiety in the building. San Jose had no interest in adding to their lead, and instead elected to defend their net.

That almost backfired when Soderberg tried jamming a shot from in tight. The puck slipped underneath Jones, splitting his pads, but the shot trickled wide left of the net. Things really got contentious for San Jose when Logan Couture was sent off for tripping Rantanen at the 4:56 mark.

The penalty killers suppressed the Avalanche, but still had 15 minutes to kill. The formula worked, as San Jose defended the 14 other shots that Colorado generated in the period. MacKinnon's injury certainly put the visitors at a disadvantage, but the Sharks did a yeoman's job of keeping the puck out of their own net.

Jones survived one last test with a minute to play after the Avalanche pulled Grubauer. Colorado moved the puck to the front of the net where Kerfoot put three shots on net from the doorstep. Jones stood tall, and the Sharks are moving on to the Conference Finals.

Game Notes:

* Tomas Hertl scored his 9th goal of the playoffs and 23rd playoff goal of his career. Joe Pavelski recorded his 47th career playoff goal.

* The last time Joonas Donskoi scored a goal was almost 4 months ago, which came on January 10th against Vegas. It was his 9th career playoff goal.

* Brent Burns became the first Sharks defenseman to record 10 points in a playoff series (4 goals, 6 assists).

* Peter DeBoer is now 4-0 in Game 7's as a head coach.

* Martin Jones improved to 3-0 in Game 7's and became the 8th goaltender in NHL history to win his first three Game 7's.

* Several Avalanche players skated up to the four on-ice officials following the game and shook the hand of each after making their way through the handshake line with the Sharks. It was a testament to the sportsmanship of the team and the sport. The post series handshake is still one of the greatest moments in professional sports.







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Scoring
1 2 3 T
COL 1 0 1 2
SJ 2 1 0 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 3 (Burns, Hertl), 5:57. 2, SJ, Hertl 9 (Pavelski, Kane), 11:35. 3, COL, Rantanen 6 (Girard, Landeskog), 19:53.
2nd period - 4, SJ, Donskoi, 1 (Burns, M. Karlsson), 12:37.
3rd period - 5, COL, Jost 3 (Wilson, Kerfoot), 0:51.
Penalties
1st period - E. Karlsson, SJ (hooking), 1:22; Brassard, COL (hooking), 3:40; Cole, COL (interference), 11:59.
2nd period - Soderberg, COL (high sticking), 2:08; E. Karlsson, SJ (slashing), 8:28.
3rd period - Couture, SJ (tripping), 4:56.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
COL - Grubauer 27 24
SJ - Jones 29 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
COL 9 5 15 29
SJ 12 13 2 27
Power Play Conversion
COL 0 of 3
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Tomas Hertl
Joonas Donskoi
Attendance
SAP Center - 17,562
Officials
Referees: McCauley, Sutherland. Linesmen: Amell, Cherrey.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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