As of Tuesday Mar. 27, the San Jose Sharks are officially in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons.
Who they will play in the first round remains very much a mystery.
San Jose could still either win the Pacific Division or drop all the way to a Wild Card spot.
But either way, the playoffs are once again on the horizon for Team Teal.
Therefore, no better time than now to share my list of the top-10 playoff moments in Sharks history.
My choices and order of the rankings will probably cause some controversy among Sharks fans, so please leave a comment and have your beef!
Honorable mentions: Pavelski Game 5 GWG vs Blues '16, Niko Dimitrakos OT goal '04, handshakes with Colorado '04, Marleau sweeps Canucks '13, Joe Pavelski OT goal vs Colorado '10, Joe Pavelski OT goal vs Dallas '08, Blues handshakes '16, Setoguchi OT goal completes comeback '11
No. 10 Patrick Marleau's Classic Game 5 One-Timer (2010)
Because this goal wasn't in overtime, nor in a Game 7, it may not stick out to some fans. For me, it sneaks onto this list for a couple reasons. First and foremost is because the Detroit Red Wings were big time rivals who had beaten the Sharks in the most recent two playoff matchups between the teams. After the Sharks upset the Wings in 1994 (appearing further down on this list), the Red Wings made quick work of the Sharks in the second round of 1995, a series nicknamed the tennis match. Detroit swept the Sharks by scores of 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 and 6-2. Much more recently the Sharks were 30 seconds away from taking a 3-1 lead in their 2007 second round series against the Wings. That was until Marleau made an infamous poor defensive play that led to the Wings tying the game. Detroit would go onto win in overtime to tie the series 2-2. They would go on to win in six games.
Ergo, when the 2010 second round series came along, Marleau and the Sharks had some avenging to do. Mr. Shark had an awesome series this time around as he also scored an overtime game-winner in Game 3 to take a 3-0 series lead. Marleau's Game-5 third period go-ahead and game-winning goal to win the series was a thing of beauty. Down to a knee, one-timer off the post and in, classic Patty fist pump sending the Sharks to only their second ever Western Conference final.
No. 9 Patrick Marleau's Game 3 Overtime Winner (2010)
As previously mentioned, Marleau had both the final game-winners for the Sharks in wins three and four over the Red Wings in 2010. With the Sharks trying to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the series, Marleau and Joe Thornton teammed up for a perfectly executed two-on-one, odd-man rush in overtime. A lucky bounce after a bad Sharks change fueled the odd-man attack and the Sharks best two players made no mistake ending the game in dramatic fashion.
No. 8 Jumbo Slide (2011)
An overtime game-winning goal to win a series against your division rival? Sure, it wasn't a Game 7, but a Game 6 overtime winner from Jumbo Joe Thornton and his sliding celebration is one of the most memorable moments in playoff history.
No. 7 Jeremy Roenick Game-7 Go-Ahead Goal (2008)
Certainly many of you Sharks fans have major disdain for Jeremy Roenick as a broadcaster. His criticisms (that were fair in my opinion) of Patrick Marleau's play in recent playoffs don't sit well with many Sharks die hards. However, I still recall Roenick's time in teal fondly because throughout the regular season of 2007-08, Roenick was clutch, scoring a team-high 10 game-winning goals. Come playoff time Roenick delivered a huge two-goal, two-assist performance in the first ever Game-7 on San Jose home ice. While his 3-2 go-ahead goal didn't stand as the game-winner, it was the go-ahead goal that put the Sharks in the lead for good. They would add two more insurance markers to go up 5-2 before winning 5-3.
No. 6 Evgeni Nabokov Absolutely Robs Brad Richard in Overtime (2008)
There is absolutely no question what is the most memorable save in Sharks playoff history. With the Sharks facing elimination in Game-6 in Dallas, Evgeni Nabokov came up with one of the greatest saves of all time. Granted, Nabokov basically bails himself out after a terrible turnover, but nonetheless, it really doesn't get better than this jaw-dropping glove save that is just millimeters from crossing the goal line an ending the Shraks season. Yeah, yeah, yeah the Sharks would evetually lose this game anyway in quadruple overtime, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this save is simply mind boggling. The athleticism, anticipation and positioning, just absolutely remarkable stop by Nabokov. As the Dallas Stars play-by-play says, "that might be the best save I've ever seen."
No. 5 The Greatest Penalty Kill Ever (2006)
The year Joe Thornton won the Hart Trophy after his midseason trade is probably best remembered by Sharks fans for the craziest penalty kill sequence in franchise history. In Game 2 of the first round series against the Chris Pronger led Edmonton Oilers, the Sharks were facing an extended 5-on-3 penalty kill. For 36 seconds of a 1:41 two-man advantage, the Sharks only had one, count them, one skater on the ice with a stick. Somehow, with forward Mark Smith and defenseman Scott Hannan having broken their sticks, the Sharks managed to kill off the first penalty as only Kyle McLaren had a twig.
While Edmonton would go on to score on the ensuing 5-on-4 advantage, the Shark Tank has never been louder than it was when Hannan's stick-less diving clear allowed the Sharks to change as the first penalty expried. San Jose would go on to win the game 2-1.
No. 4 Owen Nolan Center Ice Laser Game 7 (2000)
The San Jose Sharks were becoming known as a team that loves to play upset spoiler. Already with two first-round upsets in their less than 10-year NHL history, the Sharks did it again at the end of the 1999-2000 season. The eighth seeded Sharks were supposed to have no chance against the President's Trophy winning St. Louis Blues in the first round. And even though they had made it a series at this point, there was no way they were supposed to win Game-7 in St. Louis after being blown out at home in Game-6. San Jose once again had other ideas. With less than 15 seconds remaining in the first period, Owen Nolan launched a booming slapshot from just beyond center ice that fooled Blues goaltender Roman Turek. The goal gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission. Back in those days, a 2-0 lead with two periods to play was basically game over. San Jose would go on to win the game 3-1, fittingly making Nolan's blast the game-winning goal.
No. 3 Jamie Baker's Game-Winning Goal in Game 7 (1994)
For some Sharks fans this is still the biggest goal in Sharks franchise history, for most others it is No. 2 on this list. For me, it drops to No. 3 for a couple of reasons compared to the goal I have as No.2 on this list. Firstly, the goal is basically scored on an empty net as Detroit Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood goes on a stroll through the park leaving his net wide open. Secondly, this was a third period goal, but not an overtime game winner to win the series. Yes, it was a first round upset, the Sharks first ever playoff series victory, an historic goal no doubt. But the game itself was a bigger deal than the goal. The team's ability to shut down the heavily favored Red Wings the final seven minutes is more impressive than Baker's goal.
No. 2 Ray Whitney Game 7 Double Overtime Goal (1995)
Why is this ranked higher than Baker's goal you ask? Maybe it is just my biased towards deflection and tip goals as someone who practices deflections on a regular basis. But the Sharks were arguably just as big of underdogs in their 1995 first-round series against the Calgary Flames as they were the previous year against Detroit. And for me, scoring in double overtime with a goalie actually in the net in decent position to make the save to win a series in overtime is a much more impressive highlight to remember.
No. 1 Joonas Donskoi Game 3 Stanley Cup Final OT Winner
Last season the Sharks reached the Stanley Cup final for the first time in their 25-years (24 seasons) as a franchise. After dropping the first two games in Pittsburgh, including one in overtime, the Sharks were very much in the series as it moved to San Jose. Game 3 though was as must-win as it gets without being an elimination game. There would be no way the Sharks would come back in the final if they were to go down 3-0 in the series. Therefore, when Game 3 went into overtime, the Sharks fan base was holding its collective breath on every shift, every bounce, every shot on goal. The dreams of winning the franchise's first ever Stanley Cup that month were essentially hanging in the balance. While they would eventually lose the series, rookie forward Joonas Donskoi delivered a glimmer of hope with his game-winning goal in overtime to cut Pittsburgh's series lead to 2-1. Fans can argue with me all they want, but an overtime goal in the Stanley Cup final to keep realistic hopes alive of winning the series and the Cup, there is no bigger goal nor moment in franchise history.
There you have it, that's my list. Feel free to argue about it in the comments section below. Regardless of whether you agree with my picks or not, if this list doesn't get you fired up for this year's playoffs, you're dead inside!