San Jose Sharks defy the odds and complete fairy-tale comeback

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 23: Kevin Labanc #62 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after the Sharks beat the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime of Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 23, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 23: Kevin Labanc #62 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after the Sharks beat the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime of Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 23, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The San Jose Sharks are fresh off quite possibly the greatest game in the history of the franchise. The team’s epic comeback was the perfect fairy-tale story that will go down in the annals of Sharks history.

There are no words to describe what we all just witnessed last night. No words, no phrases, and no remarks could ever do what the San Jose Sharks just accomplished justice.

Tuesday night’s game was everything you could ask for in a hockey game. More so, it was everything you could ask for from a Hollywood script. There was adversity, despair, and most importantly a fairy-tale ending to put the cap on what was perhaps the greatest Sharks game in franchise history.

Is that statement a result of being a victim of the moment? Perhaps, but hyperbole or not, this is certainly a game that will be remembered for quite some time.

But to limit the story to just Game 7 would be a gross understatement of the true tale of trials and tribulation that the Sharks faced.

After a thrilling victory in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Sharks lost three straight and sat on the brink of elimination. All hope appeared to be lost as the Golden Knights had all the momentum on their side after defeating the Sharks by a combined 10 goals over that three-game stretch.

In fact, the Sharks had never won a postseason series in which they had trailed 3-1 in franchise history. The odds were stacked against them, but they refused to acknowledge their existence.

However, slowly but surely the Sharks were able to claw their way back into contention after a convincing victory in Game 5 only to be followed by an absolute thriller of a Game 6. A double-OT game-winner off the stick of Tomas Hertl looked to be the highlight of the series, but little did everyone know that it would soon be upstaged by greatness just two days later.

Returning to San Jose, the Sharks entered Game 7 riding a two-game win streak with momentum in their favor following Hertl’s game-winner. Unfortunately, that momentum was quick to dissipate as Vegas jumped out to an early 1-0 lead and before long the lead had extended to three goals.

Trailing 3-0 in the third period, the Sharks looked lifeless and hopeless. They were desperate for a spark, anything that could help them gain any sort of momentum in a last-ditch effort to save the season.

What followed next was a scene straight out of an Oscar-winning movie.

The team’s captain, Joe Pavelski, was bruised and battered following an awkward faceoff tie-up and laid motionless on the ground for multiple seconds. The scary injury forced the referees to stop play as there was blood beginning to spill out on to the ice and Pavelski was eventually helped to the team bench, but would not play again in the game.

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Golden Knights center Cody Eakin was given a five-minute major for a dangerous high-stick on Pavelski and suddenly there was perhaps a bit of hope, although the team and the crowd were still visibly shaken from their captain’s injury.

Then, as if to rally around their fallen captain, the Sharks surged back scoring a goal within the first six seconds of the five-minute power play. Moments after his goal, center Logan Couture motioned back to team bench and held up one finger. That goal was just the beginning.

Once the Sharks smelled blood, they weren’t ready to back off.

Less than one minute later, Hertl deflected a shot from star defenseman Erik Karlsson into the net to cut the Knights lead to just one. A couple of minutes later — still with over a minute remaining on the power play — Couture struck once again slapping a shot past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game at three completing the comeback.

But they weren’t done. What good is a comeback if you aren’t going to take the lead?

Just 20 seconds later, right wing Kevin Labanc drove towards the net and fired one past Fleury to give the Sharks the lead with just under seven minutes to play. In a span of four minutes, the Sharks had scored four goals to not only come from behind but take the lead.

All of this just mere moments after their captain had bled on to the ice and suffered a potentially serious head injury.

Unfortunately, the Knights weren’t willing to go down without a fight as with under a minute to play, they managed to tie it up as a centering pass to Jonathan Marchessault was rocketed by goalie Martin Jones. But this was only a way to add more adversity to the ever-present string of hardships the Sharks had had to endure.

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So for the second consecutive game, the Sharks and Golden Knights were headed to overtime where an ultimate victor would finally be decided. It took nearly 19 minutes of the overtime period, but the Sharks were finally able to put the game away on a Barclay Goodrow game-winning goal.

They had done it. The Sharks had reached the pinnacle of redemption and overcame any and all odds placed against them.

For a franchise still in search of its first Stanley Cup victory, this win means everything. For a fanbase that has seen postseason disappointment after postseason disappointment, there is no greater feeling than this ultimate redemption story.

Nobody knows what the future holds from here on out. The Sharks are set to take on the Colorado Avalanche in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but there are no guarantees past this point.

All we can do for now is sit back and enjoy the present moment. Realize that what we just witnessed was something special, something that may never be duplicated again by the Sharks or any other NHL team.

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Could the Sharks use this momentum to carry them even further into the playoffs and all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals? Perhaps, it sure feels like it could be their year after what we just saw. But all of that is projecting and forecasting.

For now, let’s just take a step back and live in the moment. And what a glorious moment it is.