Ranking the 5 Most Important Overtime Goals in San Jose Sharks History
There is nothing more exciting in the game of hockey than scoring a big goal in overtime to win a playoff game. The San Jose Sharks have scored many big overtime goals since entering the NHL in 1991, but now we are going to look back at the top five overtime game-winning goals in franchise history.
To qualify for this list, the goal has to take place in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Regular-season overtime contests are exciting, but they can't match the drama and significance of a postseason game.
The bigger the game, the more weight it is given on this list. A series-clinching goal or a tally in a later playoff round will have more significance than Game 1 of an opening-round matchup.
In addition, the goal's impact on the Sharks both at the time and in historical context will be taken into account.
Feel free to comment on any of these goals or to mention a moment you feel belongs on this list but was omitted. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
5. Martin Havlat, April 12, 2012 vs. St. Louis
Martin Havlat got the Sharks' 2012 postseason off to an exciting start when he scored in double overtime to defeat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in St. Louis.
The Sharks were the seventh seed in the Western Conference, while the Blues were the heavily favored second seed.
Havlat missed much of the season with a hamstring injury but was able to return in time for the final few regular-season games and was healthy to start the playoffs.
St. Louis had a 2-1 lead before Andrew Desjardins tied the game with 5:16 left in regulation time.
Neither team could score in the first overtime. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made 14 saves to prevent the home team from winning the game in the first extra session.
Then, in 3:34 into the second overtime period, Havlat let a one-timer go from the slot that beat St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak and gave the Sharks the early 1-0 lead in the series. The puck was rolling on edge when Havlat took his shot just after two Blues defenders missed clearing attempts.
"I was just trying to get it on net and I got a shot through and it went it," Havlat told Louie Korac of NHL.com after the game. "It was a great play by Ryane [Clowe] to get me the puck. The puck was rolling a little bit and I saw it went it. It was a great feeling. My first thought was that it was time to get some rest."
Unfortunately for the Sharks, this was the only game they would win in the series, which St. Louis captured in five games.
4. Patrick Marleau, May 7, 2013, vs. Vancouver
Patrick Marleau's goal at 13:18 of overtime gave the Sharks the first playoff sweep in franchise history. Marleau knocked the rebound of a shot by Joe Thornton past Cory Schneider to lead San Jose to a 4-3 win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks and help San Jose advance to the second round of the playoffs.
"It was a great play by him just to get it on net," Marleau told NHL.com's Eric Gilmore. "It was just laying there on the side of the net and I was able to bat it home."
Joe Pavelski scored twice in the game, including the game-tying goal with 4:27 left in regulation time that forced overtime.
Antti Niemi made 32 saves to earn the win for the Sharks.
"Everybody is doing the little things it takes to win," Marleau told Gilmore after the game. "That’s the main thing. We have to keep building up. It’s only going to get harder. We know that."
3. Joe Pavelski, May 2, 2008, vs. Dallas
Joe Pavelski's goal just 1:05 into overtime helped the San Jose Sharks stave off elimination and force a Game 6 in their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Dallas Stars in 2008.
The Sharks trailed in the game 2-0 after 40 minutes, but third-period goals by Milan Michalek and Brian Campbell forced overtime.
"We said, 'Let's go out and throw out everything we have in the third period,'" San Jose forward Jeremy Roenick told the Associated Press (as reported by ESPN) after the game. "'Let's just empty the tanks and put out every effort we possibly have. If we do that, we'll have a shot."
The goal was Pavelski's fifth of the playoffs. "I just kept pushing it and pushing it," Pavelski told the Associated Press. "The short side was just there. That's where I was shooting the whole time."
The Sharks had trailed in the series 3-0 but put some pressure on the Stars by becoming only the fourth team in the past 20 seasons to force a Game 6 after losing the first three games of a playoff series.
2. Joe Thornton, April 25, 2011, vs. Los Angeles
Joe Thornton is known as one of the best passers in hockey, but in Game 6 of the Sharks' opening-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings, Thornton made his mark by shooting the puck. Thornton scored 2:22 into overtime to give the Sharks a 4-3 win. It was the first overtime goal of Thornton's NHL career.
San Jose advanced to the next round of the playoffs as a result, ousting the Kings in six games. Three of the Sharks' four wins in this series came in overtime.
The Sharks took a one-goal lead three times in this game, but on each occasion, Los Angeles came back and evened the score. After Thornton's goal, of course, they didn't have that chance.
The winning goal was set up by Devin Setoguchi who saw his pass for Patrick Marleau bounce off of Marleau's skate and right to Thornton in the slot.
"I don't really know what happened," Thornton admitted to NHL.com's Rick Sadowski. "All I knew was the puck kind of popped out and was bouncing in front of the net. I just grabbed it and put it in the open net. It was a pretty good play by whoever shot the puck."
Winning a game in overtime is always sweet. It's even sweeter when that goal eliminates your cross-state and division rivals from the playoffs.
1. Ray Whitney, May 19, 1995, vs. Calgary
The Calgary Flames finished 13 points ahead of the San Jose Sharks during the lockout-shortened, 48-game 1994-95 season, but San Jose pulled off a huge upset and ousted the Flames in the opening round of the playoffs in seven games.
Ray Whitney scored the winning goal at 1:54 of the second overtime. He was able to deflect the puck past a screened Trevor Kidd to shock the Flames and end their season.
A huge key to the win was the goaltending of Wade Flaherty, who made 56 saves, including 17 in the first overtime period. The Sharks were outshot in the game 60-30, but Flaherty's fine play gave them a chance to win the game and the series.
The upset win gave the Sharks one of the first magic playoff moments in franchise history and remains the most important overtime goal in San Jose Sharks playoff history.