When we last checked in with the San Jose Sharks it was their power play taking over and scoring four consecutive goals during a five-minute major in their historic Game 7 comeback to send them to a Round 2 matchup with the Colorado Avalanche.
In their 5-2 Game 1 win on Friday night, it was the other side of their special teams unit — their penalty kill — that helped swing the momentum in their favor.
With the Sharks trailing by a goal early in the second period, defender Brenden Dillon was given a double-minor for high-sticking that gave the Avalanche a four-minute power play that could have padded their lead.
Instead, the Sharks’ PK completely slammed the door shut and killed off the entire penalty, setting the stage for an offensive outburst later in the period that would prove to be the difference in the game.
[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
It also gave the Sharks one more opportunity to remind everyone about what happened in their Game 7 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Less than two minutes after that penalty expired, the Sharks’ offense erupted, with all of it coming from their third line of Joe Thornton, Marcus Sorensen, and Kevin Labanc.
It began with Thornton finishing off a 2-on-1 rush to tie the game with his second goal of the postseason.
Six minutes after that, Labanc gave the Sharks their first lead of the night with a highlight reel goal that saw him dangle around Mikko Rantanen at the blue line and then beat Philipp Grubauer with this perfectly placed shot. This goal goes in the books as the game-winner on Friday.
Not even three minutes later, that line struck again when Brent Burns tallied his third point of the night when he scored his second goal of the playoffs on a shot that banked in off of Avalanche rookie defender Cale Makar. He added a fourth point later in the game when he assisted on Timo Meier‘s empty-net goal.
Sorensen and Thornton each picked up an assist on Burns’ goal, giving each of them two points on the night.
Game 2 of Avalanche-Sharks is on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.