Winning Play: Sharks’ depth finally overwhelms Avs

The chief reason why the San Jose Sharks were considered favorites over the Colorado Avalanche was depth. San Jose had it, Colorado did not.

Not that you could tell after losing Game 6 to the likes of J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost. Logan Couture made pointed comments about the Sharks’ depth guys needing to step up. Peter DeBoer, perhaps excusing only Couture’s line, took a swipe at his forwards: “This time of year, you need all 12 of them going.”

All 12 of them were going, at least in the first two periods of Game 7, as San Jose staked out a 3-1 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

Evander Kane — Tomas Hertl — Joe Pavelski

We saw some of the best individual qualities from this newly-formed line on this game-opening goal: Hertl’s (48) tree trunk frame kept Tyson Barrie (4) away from the puck, Kane’s speed and size combination lent itself to a forecheck that easily separated Alexander Kerfoot (13) from the puck, while Pavelski (8) tipped it home.

“He proved it again, he’s one of the best. He tipped it again,” Hertl exclaimed. “It’s amazing. I try all year long [to tip it in], and every time, the puck is in the corner. But for him, every time it’s perfect.”

Hertl deserves a double-feature. He put his body between Compher (7) and Erik Johnson (6), eventually luring Colin Wilson (22) one way before backhanding a pass to Kane the other way. This would lead to his own goal.

Timo Meier — Logan Couture — Gustav Nyquist

Speaking of Hertl’s goal, it was initiated by this Meier (28) drive. While this wasn’t the best example of it, Meier’s ability to take the puck wide on a defenseman with his combination of size and speed can be frightening. More often than not, it’s at least a sure zone entry.

Meanwhile, Joonas Donskoi’s (27) goal was initiated by this superlative Nyquist (14) effort. It was just another in a long list of positive plays that the playmaker made in this series.

DeBoer said this before Game 7:

Logan is the consummate “I’m not going to tell you, I’m going to show you what my commitment level is” [guy]. He brings that every night.

At the end of Game 5, he blocked two shots in the last 30 seconds when they had the goalie out.

Everyone looks at the goals, where he is in scoring.

For me, he walks the walk at both ends of the rink. Those are the type of guys that you can win with.

Here’s just another example of Couture’s will to win: Patrick Nemeth (12) is aiming for Compher’s stick with a hard shot-pass, Couture will have nothing to do with it.

Marcus Sorensen — Joe Thornton — Kevin Labanc

In truth, this line has been quiet since their Game 1 eruption.

But this third period shift was important. The Avalanche were making their push, while the Sharks had just killed off a power play.

Labanc (62) flew in on the forecheck, batting down the Philipp Grubauer (31) pass. Colorado got it out, but Thornton (19) outraced Carl Soderberg (34) to a loose puck. Labanc chipped it back in, and now, it was Sorensen’s (20) time to shine.

Sorensen skated through a Nikita Zadorov’s (16) stick interference, then closed on Ian Cole (28), who rushed a pass up because of the winger’s pressure.

Zadorov lofted it out, onto Brent Burns’s stick. In a final frame controlled by the Avalanche, this was a meaningful defensive shift turned in by Jumbo and company.

Joonas Donskoi — Barclaw Goodrow — Melker Karlsson

First goal in 40 contests, and it’s a series-winner for Donskoi (27). His previous career-long slump was 27 games.

After the disallowed Wilson goal, Erik Karlsson took a slashing penalty, which gave Colorado a chance to get it back.

Instead, Goodrow (23) pickpocketed Mikko Rantanen (96), pressured a puck out and blocked a Barrie blast.

Blink and you’ll miss it, but Goodrow’s linemate and penalty-killing partner, Melker Karlsson (68), provided strong support, denying Rantanen the slot (which led to Goodrow pickpocket) and running out at Barrie (hurrying shot that Goodrow blocked).

“With so much on the line, it’s something you have to get done,” Goodrow said.

To a man, the forwards got it done last night, to punch San Jose’s ticket to the Western Conference Final.

“Every line, we stepped it up,” Hertl noted. “If you want to win a Cup, you need all four lines. Every line created chances.”