Shark Week: The 4th Most Important Goal in Franchise History

The lockout-shortened season of 1994-95 wasn't kind to the Sharks. Frankly, they were terrible. The only teams in the league with a worse goal differential than San Jose that year were the post-Gretzky-and-Messier Oilers, the 2-year-old Mighty Ducks and the 3-year-old Ottawa Senators. They also generated the fewest shots on goal in the NHL. The Sharks may have secured a higher playoff seed than they had in 1994 but they were definitely a worse team this time around and were set to open the second-ever postseason in franchise history against a Calgary Flames team featuring Theo Fleury, Joe Nieuwendyk and Phil Housley that had far and away been the best Pacific Division club that year.

What transpired was basically a complete reversal of what's typically come to characterize Sharks playoff series in recent years. Instead of consistently outplaying an opponent but still managing to lose, San Jose was instead the team that was thoroughly outmatched but came away with a series win nonetheless. Calgary outscored the Sharks 35-26 over the seven-game series but three one-goal wins (two of which were settled in overtime) and a two-goal victory helped clinch the series for San Jose. The circumstances in which the actual clinching occurred though were about as memorable as it gets in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and what makes this goal the fourth-most important in Sharks history. Ray Whitney, who remains the only player from San Jose's inaugural season still in the league today, tipped a Sergei Makarov shot from the half-wall past Trevor Kidd in double overtime of Game 7:

Never mind that San Jose probably didn't deserve to win that series, forget that that fact would become all too clear in the next round when they'd get their asses handed to them by the Red Wings; for the second straight year, the newly-formed Sharks had improbably toppled a powerhouse in dramatic fashion with a Game 7 win. Every kid playing street hockey loves to pretend the goal they just scored was a Game 7 OT winner in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For Whitney, and the Sharks, that was reality in '95. San Jose would fail to get out of the first round for the next four seasons but at that moment, a year after beating Detroit, it was clear to the rest of the league that this seemingly inconsequential team from the Bay Area that had risen from the ashes of the Minnesota North Stars might be worth paying attention to.