Tomas Hertl is a man of his word. After guaranteeing Sharks fans that they would be back in San Jose for a Game 7, he took matters into his own hands to follow through with his promise. And on the penalty kill, no less.
After a marathon double overtime Game 6 that hadn’t seen a goal since 11:20 into the second period, Vegas was granted a power play after Barclay Goodrow was called for slashing. As the Sharks tried to clear the puck on the penalty kill, Hertl picked it up and tossed a shot on net. It was San Jose’s only shot of the second overtime, but it was enough to end the game at 91 minutes and 17 seconds.
Though Hertl was the overtime hero, Martin Jones was the true savior for the Sharks, stopping 58 shots, which set a franchise record. San Jose spent a good portion of the game in its own zone—the Sharks had just 29 total shots on goal—and Jones decided to save his best play of the series for when it mattered most.
Unlike most of the games in this series, there wasn’t a quick goal to get things started, but Logan Couture scored with 6.5 seconds left in the first. William Karlsson’s line came out in the second applying crazy pressure on Jones, and Vegas finally tied it up when Jonathan Marchessault jumped on a rebound, kicked the puck to his stick and lifted it over Jones’s pads.
Though this game didn’t lack physical play (there were 119 total hits), it wasn’t nearly as scrappy as the first five games of the series, aided in part by the refs tucking the whistles in their pockets for much of the game. With Vegas’s chance at a spot in Round 2 and San Jose’s desperation to stay alive, both teams seemed focused on scoring that next goal. It just wouldn’t come for really, really long time.
BRUINS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 2
The drama of Toronto-Boston is getting a seventh episode yet again. With their season on the line, the Bruins put together one of their more complete games of the series and forced a Game 7 back at home.
Toronto took the first lead when Morgan Rielly blasted it from the point, but Brad Marchand evened it up on the power play when he found a loose puck from the face-off that he wristed off the knee of Ron Hainsey and past Frederik Andersen. Torey Krug scored another power-play goal later in the first when a juicy rebound landed on his stick and he rifled it past Andersen. Although the Bruins had a few questionable calls made against them, their special teams came through, scoring on both of their power-play opportunities and killing off all three penalties.
Jake DeBrusk scored the lone second-period goal, and then the Maple Leafs came out hot to start the third. Auston Matthews sniped one from the right circle, his shot ringing off the post and in 4:15 into the third. This started a push from Toronto, which pulled Andersen with around two minutes left, but an empty-netter sealed a Game 7.
The series returns to TD Garden, where Marchand said they might as well play with a tennis ball with how terrible the ice has been there this postseason. The Maple Leafs will be looking for their first playoff series win in 15 years and a bit of redemption for last year’s Game 7 between these two teams.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
The Sharks came so incredibly close to ending it on this play that defies all logic. Colin Miller did some snow angels in the crease, Jon Merrill dove along the goal line and somehow the puck stayed out of the net. The luck didn't last for Vegas, though.
1. Martin Jones, SJS — Jones really struggled at the start of this series, to put it lightly. But that didn't matter anymore as desperation mode kicked in and he played the best game of his career. The one goal he did let in was just a stupidly skillful move from Marchessault.
2. Tomas Hertl, SJS — Hertl is a man of his word. His shorthanded overtime game-winner was a poetic way to take this back to the Shark Tank.
3. Brad Marchand, BOS — The little ball of hate hasn’t really lived up to his nickname this postseason, but luckily for the Bruins, he keeps stepping up when Boston needs him most. Marchand turned in a three-point game (two goals, one assist), with his first goal shifting the momentum squarely into the Bruins’ favor.