SAN JOSE – Sure, the first four games of the Stanley Cup playoff second-round series between the Sharks and Colorado Avalanche lacked drama. But, boy, did all of that change in Game 5 on Saturday at SAP Center.
It had a little bit of everything. A disallowed goal, a tussle between Joe Thornton and a goalie, and a Joe Pavelski sighting that made the crowd go ballistic. Tomas Hertl was the Game 5 hero, scoring both goals in a 2-1 San Jose victory that gave the Sharks 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Here are three takeaways from the Sharks' win.
Going in for the kill
Special teams has been a big storyline for the Sharks all series, and not always in a good way. In Game 5, though, their penalty kill came up huge, especially in the first 40 minutes of play. San Jose could have sat back on its heels after Kevin Labanc's game-opening goal was erased because of Timo Meier's high-sticking penalty, but the Sharks instead built a ton of momentum from it.
They also did a good job of killing off back-to-back penalties in the second period, thanks in part to Martin Jones making a couple of killer saves in the end. Despite Colorado scoring a goal almost immediately afterward thanks to a fortunate bounce, San Jose didn't let up again and Hertl tied the game at a goal apiece just before the second intermission.
Both Jones and Grubauer brought their A-game into Game 5, trading impressive saves that kept the game scoreless deep into the second period. While the Sharks did a much better job getting in front of Grubauer in Game 5 than they did in tThursday's Game 4 loss, it took a little extra elbow grease for the Sharks to get the puck past him. It took a lot of grit and patience on Hertl's part to flip a loose puck into the back of the net to give the Sharks their first lead with 13:34 left in the third.
In the opposite net, Jones built a brick wall. He saved his most impressive saves for the third period, sprawling out for two huge stops on Colorado's top line.
As he has since Game 5 of the first round, Jones kept the Sharks in the contest and gave them the best chance to win.
Erik Karlsson had his best game yet
Over the course of the playoffs, Karlsson has gradually looked healthier and more dominant on the ice with each game. Game 5 against Colorado was probably his best game yet, both offensively and defensively.
A secondary assist on Hertl's first goal was his only point of the night, but he made plays all over the ice on Saturday. He consistently carried the puck into the offensive zone, and created plays for his teammates. If there was ever a question of how good the Sharks can be when Karlsson is completely healthy, that was answered in Game 5.