Welp, here they go again.
The Sharks had an opportunity to end their Stanley Cup playoff second-round series with the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 on Monday. Heck, they even came back from three separate one-goal deficits to send the contest into overtime. But Colorado emerged victorious with a 4-3 win in the extra frame, and San Jose will have to win a Game 7 back on home ice at SAP Center in order to advance to the Western Conference final.
But going into another do-or-die Game 7 doesn't phase this Sharks team. Considering they had to win one in order to advance to the second round in the first place, there is a lot of confidence they can do the same Wednesday.
"This is a resilient group, they've shown that all year," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told reporters in Denver after the Game 6 loss. "I think we're excited for the opportunity and it's going to be fun to be at home in front of our fans."
"Game 7, it's going to be fun," winger Timo Meier added. "We love that challenge."
The Sharks' most recent Game 7 victory was, of course, a game for the ages. While Wednesday will mark just the second time in franchise history the Sharks have played consecutive seven-game series, they have also fared pretty well in elimination games so far through these playoffs. San Jose is 3-0 with its postseason on the line, and has won five of seven games at SAP Center in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Having the opportunity to stare down elimination yet again is something the Sharks are willing to do.
"Our record's been good, so we have to show it," said defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who scored two of San Jose's three goals in Game 6.
The Sharks, despite the loss, still have a chance to advance to the NHL's final four. Considering San Jose lost nine of its final 12 regular-season games and looked dead in the water as recently as Game 4 of the first round,
"One game at home to move on to the Western Conference final," DeBoer said. "I think we would've taken that at any point this season."
That's not to say the club doesn't have room for improvement. Although the Sharks forced overtime, DeBoer said San Jose needs more contributions up front in order to stay alive in the postseason.
"I thought our forwards could have found a way to do a little bit more," he critiqued, noting that San Jose's scoring was mostly due to the work of defensemen Vlasic, Brent Burns, and Erik Karlsson. "As a group, they have to be better for us if we're going to move on here."
Still, DeBoer was happy with the Sharks' adjustments after the first period. The Avalanche took an 11-5 advantage on the shot clock into the second period, but the Sharks outshot them 21-11 over the 40 minutes and change.
"I thought we played a decent road game," he said. "I didn't like our first period. We knew they were going to push, and they had some momentum in the first. But I thought the second and third were pretty even periods."
Through six games this series, the Sharks and Avalanche are about as even as two games could be. San Jose has scored 17 goals and Colorado has 16. Both teams have scored just two times on the power play, while goaltenders Philipp Grubauer (.918 save percentage) and Martin Jones (.913) are separated by the thinnest of margins.
In other words, DeBoer has plenty of reasons to believe Game 7 is a fitting conclusion.
"I'm not surprised it's seven, based on how we've played each other," he said. "Two evenly matched teams."
But that doesn't mean the Sharks lack confidence heading into a decisive Game 7.
"We've won Game 7s in our building before," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "Right now, I'm pretty pissed off that we lost this game. But we have to go and win a home game."