In the regular season, the Sharks earned a reputation for coming back from late deficits. And in the playoffs, they've shown their ability to bounce back from poor games, winning four of five following a loss before tonight.
Both attributes were on display in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, as the Sharks followed up their Game 4 loss by coming back from a pair of deficits in the second period. Joe Pavelski scored the game-tying and game-winning goals just 1:39 apart to bring his team within a win of its first Stanley Cup Final appearance.
After the Blues went up 3–2 halfway through the second, Pavelski tied the game with a power play goal late in the period when Kevin Shattenkirk hooked Tomas Hertl on a break. Joe Thornton passed the puck to Pavelski in front of the net, and Pavelski didn't miss the opportunity.
Tied 3–3 entering what was undoubtedly the biggest period in franchise history to date, the captain needed only 16 seconds to score the biggest goal in franchise history to date. As he's done so many times in the past, Pavelski tipped a shot from Brent Burns past Blues goaltender Jake Allen for his second goal of the game and his league-leading and franchise record-extending 12th goal of the playoffs.
Chris Tierney and Joel Ward added empty net goals to set up the 6–3 final before the Sharks head home for Game 6 with a chance to clinch the series.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic got San Jose on the board just four minutes into Game 5. Despite the protestations of TV analysts everywhere, the first goal of the game isn't any more important than any other. That said, it felt awfully good to see the Sharks jump out to the early lead. Pavelski won the draw and kept the puck in the zone before sending it to Vlasic, who fired the puck home for his first goal of the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, the second and third goals are just as important as the first, and they didn't score them. Jaden Schwartz picked up his first of the series to tie the game three minutes after Vlasic's goal, then Troy Brouwer made it 2–1 Blues eight minutes after that, batting a rebound out of the air and past Martin Jones.
Trailing on the scoreboard despite playing a relatively even first period, the Sharks tied things up early in the second. A roughing penalty to Shattenkirk gave San Jose its first opportunity with the man advantage, and Ward scored his third goal of the playoffs just one second before the power play ended.
Midway through the second, consecutive penalties to Justin Braun (holding) and Roman Polak (foolishly punching Dimitrij Jaskin in the corner) let the Blues get something going after scuffling early in the period. The Sharks killed the first penalty, but Robby Fabbri made San Jose pay on the second with a slap shot that eluded Jones and put St. Louis ahead until Pavelski took over the game.
Sharks goals (assists): Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton), Joel Ward (Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Paul Martin), Joe Pavelski (Joe Thornton, Logan Couture), Joe Pavelski (Brent Burns, Tomas Hertl), Chris Tierney (Joe Thornton), Joel Ward (unassisted)
Fear the Fin's Three Stars
1) Joe Pavelski
2) Joe Thornton
3) Joel Ward