Skip to content

Another choking label erased? Joe Thornton, Sharks take series with dramatic OT win

Apr 26, 2011, 1:55 AM EDT

Joe Thornton AP

Indulge me for one moment and picture the laziest heckler in the world. This person doesn’t get to watch every game, but knows enough about final results to christen players as “chokers” or “heroes.”

That person must be awfully unhappy right now. In the span of one round, the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks – two teams who are choke joke staples – didn’t just win their series, they showed serious guts in the process.

Nothing could be more symbolic than Joe Thornton (perhaps the most scrutinized player in the NHL) scoring the overtime game-winner that sent the Sharks to the second round.

San Jose 4, Los Angeles 3 (OT); Sharks win series 4-2

While the Sharks frequently dominated the play from a scoring chances standpoint in this series, the Kings deserve a lot of credit for making it a tough grind for San Jose. This series went to overtime three different times (all wins by San Jose), including the Sharks’ historic comeback. In other words, this series was much closer than I predicted.

Before we get into the impact for both squads, let’s take a look at the game itself.

The first and second periods:

Jonathan Quick was brilliant in the first period, keeping the score 0-0 despite the fact that the Sharks out-shot the Kings 16-5.

Kyle Wellwood defied all the Internet’s fat jokes by putting in a rebound to make it 1-0 for the Sharks early in the second period. Justin Williams was able to tie the game up on the back end of a double-minor power play that probably shouldn’t have happened because it wasn’t Joe Thornton’s stick that ended up knocking out Brad Richardson’s teeth. (Yes, you read that last bit correctly.)

Jason Demers scored his second goal of the playoffs by roofing it past Quick to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame.

The third period and overtime:

The Kings just wouldn’t die in this game, which makes it a microcosm of their hearty work in the series. Ryan Smyth scored a rebound goal just 18 seconds into the third thanks to a nice setup by Jarret Stoll.

Dany Heatley hasn’t exactly been a major factor in this series, but he did give the Sharks a 3-2 lead thanks to a wicked wrist shot. Los Angeles didn’t roll over after that one, either, as Trevor Lewis scored his first career playoff goal to make it 3-3.

The remaining moments were dominated by a couple boneheaded penalties. The first one involved a Drew Doughty high-stick/cross-check to the face of Devin Setoguchi, a hit that might draw some league attention.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

The outcome of this game lessened the impact of the second call, but it was still a huge moment when referees handed Jamie McGinn a five minute major penalty and game misconduct for charging. There’s little doubt that it was a charge, but many hockey fans wondered if it was an extreme call considering the fact that it was made late in a big game. The Sharks were able to kill that penalty, with 3:23 of the shorthanded time in regulation and 1:37 in overtime.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Ultimately, the Sharks killed the penalty and Thornton put home that series-winning rebound goal 2:22 into overtime and then delighted the hockey world with his victory slide.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

What it means for San Jose, Los Angeles

The Sharks continue to look like a “different” team, a point underscored by their comeback win and three away wins in the series. They should feel great about their offense, with Antti Niemi and their occasional lapses in discipline being their biggest concerns.

The Kings still haven’t won a playoff series since 2001, but it’s still safe to describe them as up-and-comers. The team is strong on defense, promising in net and just an asset or two away from being dangerous on offense. This loss will hurt for some time, but they have something to build on after giving a great team a run for their money.

Latest Posts
  1. Capitals’ third line stands out in Game 3

    May 4, 2015, 11:19 PM EDT

    New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Three Getty Images

    Washington needs its bottom-six forwards to keep contributing in order to go deep into the playoffs.

  2. Holtby outduels Lundqvist as Caps take series lead

    May 4, 2015, 10:28 PM EDT

    Braden Holtby Getty Images

    It was his first shutout of the 2015 playoffs.

  3. Colorado College, University of Denver will play at Coors Field

    May 4, 2015, 9:40 PM EDT

    Coors Field Getty Images

    It’s part of the leadup to the Detroit vs. Colorado outdoor game.

  4. Video: Capitals strike first on Beagle’s determination goal

    May 4, 2015, 9:04 PM EDT

    Beagle goal

    Andre Burakovsky got his first career playoff point.

  5. Shero aims to bolster Devils offensively

    May 4, 2015, 8:23 PM EDT

    Ray Shero Getty Images

    “Without that, goaltending and team defense can only take you so far.”

  6. WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Capitals

    May 4, 2015, 6:12 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptixndgwywu5y2yynznhztc4ndzloda5ownkmzfjyzyy AP

    The series is tied at 1-1.

  7. Bolts will protect Bishop ‘as we see fit’

    May 4, 2015, 5:42 PM EDT

    Brandon Prust, Ben Bishop Getty Images

    And they’ll gladly keep taking man advantage opportunities, too.

  8. Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’

    May 4, 2015, 4:24 PM EDT

    Val'Dor Foreurs v Guelph Storm - Game Four Getty Images

    “Coming out of junior, we had such high hopes for him.”

  9. Rangers haven’t granted B’s permission to interview assistant GM Gorton

    May 4, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT

    2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Practice Sessions Getty Images

    And Glen Sather isn’t sure he’ll ever permit it, either.

  10. Once again, Rick Nash isn’t scoring in the playoffs

    May 4, 2015, 3:10 PM EDT

    Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Two Getty Images

    “I have to get to the inside; that’s the biggest thing.”

  11. Five team stats you may find interesting

    May 4, 2015, 2:28 PM EDT

    Calgary Flames v Anaheim Ducks - Game One Getty Images

    The Ducks have been deadly on the power play, unlike during the regular season.

  12. Armstrong: All Blues signings on hold ’til Tarasenko ‘taken care of’

    May 4, 2015, 1:12 PM EDT

    tarasenkogetty Getty Images

    “If it means allowing players to go to free agency, if it means making players sweat it out on what their deal’s going to be, he’s the priority for us.”

  13. Canucks assign Virtanen, McCann to AHL Utica

    May 4, 2015, 1:07 PM EDT

    2014 NHL Draft - Round 1 Getty Images

    Virtanen was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft.

  14. Welcome back, Manitoba Moose

    May 4, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

    Moose

    Jets’ AHL team will play at the MTS Centre next season.

  15. Weiss unsure about his spot in Detroit next season

    May 4, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings Getty Images

    He’s hoping to “find a way to get a bigger role.”

  16. ‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident

    May 4, 2015, 11:37 AM EDT

    Ottawa Senators v Montreal Canadiens - Game Two Getty Images

    “Prust has engaged himself in something that’s going to take him into an area where he doesn’t want to be part of.”

Featured video

Stanley Cup playoff Round 2 preview
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. K. Letang (1497)
  2. J. Hudler (1481)
  3. M. Zidlicky (1478)
  4. N. Beaulieu (1429)
  5. B. Bishop (1390)