(photo credit: Jon Swenson)
Overtime has been the kiss of death for the Sharks all season and especially in their series against the Dallas Stars. But in last night's Western Conference semi-final game five, it was not so.
After spectacular third period goals by Milan Michalek and the previous bane of my hockey existence, Brian Campbell, San Jose managed to come back from a two goal deficit to tie the game and force overtime.
It's no secret that I've been pretty hard on Brian Campbell since the playoffs started, even going so far as to write an article wondering what happened to the once-solid defenseman.
He's made me want to rip my hair out more than a few times. But as I watched his shot sail past Stars' goalie Marty Turco in the middle of the third period, all his previous puck fumbles and painful giveaways were forgiven.
Regulation finished with the game tied at two goals apiece.
A little over a minute into overtime, Joe Pavelski took the puck towards the net and waited. And waited. And finally, just when it seemed that he might have held onto the puck too long to get a decent shot away, he fired and beat Turco cleanly to propel the Sharks to a 3-2 OT victory.
The Tank sounded louder than it's ever been as Pavelski attempted to give a post game interview, having to yell his answers into the mic.
Nicely done, Sharks’ fans! Keep that level of energy up! The boys in teal clearly fed off of it.
And although the crappy VS telecast didn't show it, a first hand account of the Stars as they filed off the ice painted them as "dejected" and "scared.” Nice!
Here's where things get weird...
If someone were to cut open one of my veins, I have no doubt that he or she would see either the blue and gold of the California Golden Bears or the Sharks’ teal.
I'm what you'd call a die hard fan.
Even so, I found myself in the middle of a total Rocky IV moment last night, and it all centered on the Stars' captain, Brenden Morrow.
As Morrow's first and then second goals were disallowed, I found that, much like the Russian boxing fans in the final scene of Rocky IV, I was having a change of heart.
Knowing nothing more about Morrow than the fact that he's a badass with a ton of skill in a Stars’ sweater, I've never liked the guy.
He may very well be a great person, but he plays for "them," which automatically makes him a villain.
Last night, though, I feel he was robbed. There's been an inordinate amount of talk already about Morrow's disallowed "kicking" goal. From my seat on my couch, it looked like a good goal with no "distinct kicking motion" present.
Maybe if the game would have been broadcast in HD, I would have had a clearer look.
Now, if the refs wanted to get nit-picky, they could have really hosed Morrow and sent him to the box for goaltender interference (and they would have had a good case for it!), thereby negating the goal in that fashion.
But did he really kick it in? Nah. I felt bad for the guy.
After Morrow's second goal of the night was disallowed (and couldn't be argued), I'm sure he felt like he just couldn't catch a break. Despite the fact that he's been a Shark killer in the past, I found myself rooting for him.
Why? Who knows.
It was like Rocky IV all over again, where I was supposed to be rooting for Ivan Drago and half way through, switched to cheering for Rocky. Weird, I know.
(Please note: I'm not saying that, in this scenario, the Sharks are Ivan Drago and the Stars are Rocky Balboa. I was just merely trying to communicate, albeit poorly, how strange it was for a ridiculous Sharks’ fan like me to feel badly for the opponent.)
In any case, both teams head back to the Lone Star State for game six. Dallas still leads the series 3-2, but I feel the energy and desire have definitely returned to the Sharks.
They'll take it in seven. I believe they can.
The playoff beards live to see another day. Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda will return to call the game. The Sharks are playing inspired hockey again. All is right in the world...