Joe Thornton pulled the San Jose Sharks even with the Calgary Flames with a timely tip of the stick.
Thorton scored the winning goal on a deflection with eight seconds remaining as the visiting Sharks rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarter-final at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday night.
"I was just waiting until there was under 10 seconds left in the game — perfect time," Thornton quipped. "The game is not over until that buzzer rings and we played right to the end tonight."
"That was huge," Sharks head coach Ron Wilson said. "Joe struggled mightily for two periods."
It was Thorton's first goal of the series and capped a remarkable comeback by the Sharks, who trailed 2-1 with less than five minutes remaining.
But tenacious forechecking from rookie Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski sprung the puck loose to struggling Jonathan Cheechoo and he scored the tying goal on a sharp-angled slapshot with 4:54 remaining in regulation.
"After the first period, we settled down and had a great second period and said to ourselves 'If we come out and have a great third period, we can really get
back in this game,'" Thornton said. "We just kept pounding shots and Cheech — what a shot that was."
Cheechoo's goal sparked a feeding frenzy of sorts, with the Sharks repeatedly testing Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff and circling the net in nearly a full minute before Thornton tipped Douglas Murray's point shot for the decisive goal.
"Dougie made a great shot and I just happened to throw my stick on it," Thornton said.
"We hung in there," Wilson said. "I thought we played a tremendous game.
"Joe hung in there and he found a way. I'm very proud."
Thornton and Ryane Clowe each had one goal and one assist as the second-ranked Sharks tied the best-of-seven series 2-2.
Iginla leads Flames
Jarome Iginla led the seventh-seeded Flames with one goal and one assist, while Dion Phaneuf got his third goal of the series.
But the most telling statistic? Calgary took just 10 shots — a franchise low for the playoffs.
"Any time you get outshot 32-10 at home, that means you did not come to work and you did not put in the effort," Flames head coach Mike Keenan said.
Calgary took a 1-0 lead on Iginla's second goal of the series 3:19 into the contest, but Clowe tipped Patrick Marleau's point shot for a power-play goal less than 11 minutes into the second period.
It was Clowe's fourth goal in as many games, tops on the Sharks.
Before the period ended, the Flames restored their lead as Iginla won a faceoff to Phaneuf, whose wrist shot from the point found the back of the net through heavy traffic with 1:31 left.
Daymond Langkow had a couple of glorious chances to score an insurance marker for Calgary early in the third period, but he flicked the puck off the crossbar on a broken 3-on-1 break and was later foiled by a prone Evgeni Nabokov on a backhand tip.
"We carried some play early," Keenan said. "But it was all San Jose after that."
"San Jose had more desperation in their play than we did. They completely outplayed us."
Game 5 goes Thursday at HP Pavilion (CBC, 10 p.m. ET).