The San Jose Sharks tonight avoided a place in the pantheon of all-time sports choke jobs. Translation of the foregoing: They beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in Game Seven of their NHL Stanley Cup Western Conference semi-final series.
The victory came after a furious closing 90 seconds during which the desperate Wings–who had come back from a 3-0 deficit in the series to force tonight’s game–pulled their goalie and brought a sixth skater into the game to try to tie the score and send the contest into overtime. They almost did when Pavel Datsyuk unleashed a slapshot on Sharks goalie Antti Niemi with about 30 seconds left. The puck ricocheted off NIemi’s mask and neck before he gloved it and hung on.
Maybe the “Sharks Win!” deadline is a little premature. They still need to get past the Vancouver Canucks and whoever will represent the league’s Eastern Conference to win hockey’s holy grail, the Stanley Cup. That’s eight more wins, Sharks fans. The Sharks-Canucks series starts Sunday in Vancouver.
NHL.com: Game recap
San Jose Mercury: Guts and glory: San Jose Sharks win!
San Francisco Chronicle: Collapse averted: Power play, spirit return as Sharks beat Wings 3-2