SAN JOSE, Calif. — At first glance, Peter DeBoer did not resemble a clown.
The San Jose Sharks coach wore a neatly tailored black suit on Tuesday evening — no polka dots. There was no red nose. No rainbow wig. He wore stylish dress shoes, not oversized red ones. But then there was the action on the ice.
His team sure could juggle.
One goal. Two goals. Three goals. Four.
The Sharks’ rally from a three-goal deficit sparked a dramatic finish to Game 7 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series. Veteran center Joe Pavelski lay motionless with blood appearing on the ice near his head. Pavelski had been cross-checked by the Knights’ Cody Eakin, then shoved to the ice by Paul Stastny.
The moment ignited the Sharks as they hovered over one of their leaders, helped him up and escorted him to the locker room.
“He’s the heart of this team,” Joe Thornton said of Pavelski. “To see him go down like that and suffer like that, it was heartbreaking for us. That power play unit won us the game, but the boys, they got together and said, ‘This is for Pav.’ We love him. It was just a matter of will. We willed that for him.”
Eakin was banished to a five-minute major for his cross-check of Pavelski, creating a delay in action to wipe up blood and clear beer canisters and other debris that fans threw onto the SAP Center ice. Sharks players piled on where it mattered.
Sharks center Barclay Goodrow’s overtime goal capped a wild Game 7 and an improbable Sharks comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.
Thornton, 39, called it “the best game I’ve ever been a part of, period.” He wrapped a towel around Pavelski’s bleeding head after the hit.
Said Sharks center Logan Couture: “That’s a one-in-a-lifetime game, I think. Knock on wood. I don’t think my heart can take another one like that. … By the 10-minute mark of the overtime, there was just nothing left for a lot of us after (Sunday’s) double overtime game. … You’re running on fumes.”
The contentious series only fortified the rivalry between the clubs
Gallant responded Tuesday morning at a news conference, calling DeBoer a “clown.”
The sparring of words made for an interesting morning.
It seemed mellow by the end of Game 7 and the Knights’ season.