I spent nearly all of Thursday nervously awaiting the start of game 4. Everything about the moments leading up to that game felt wrong. Tense, nervous, like even the air doubted the Sharks ability to sweep. After the game ended I thought about the fact that I had told Mina during game 3 that we'd take game 5. (I also said we'd take game 4 and lose 3, so I was only just a wee bit off). We WOULD take game 5 and that was that. This feeling may explain why I went into yesterday's game with few nerves. We were going to see handshakes last night, and I wasn't about to be swayed into doubt by anyone or anything. Did a potentially loss cross my mind? Of course, but not until a little bit later in the game.
The first started off pretty well with an aggressive push by the Sharks. You could tell early on it was likely going to be one of those annoyingly games were both goalies have their fore fields up and despite amazing chances, it was going to take an act of near god like proportions to actually score. Mina kept claiming to be "quietly freaking out" throughout the game, although I told her her body language was so loud they could probably hear her worrying two states over. The first ended scoreless, which no doubt only served to raise her anxiety levels, as well as those throughout the building.
- Speaking of the Tank, it was LOUD! Someone said they saw the actual noise meter (not the fake one they occasionally throw up on the big screens) hit 115 dB. For the record a jet engine is 120 dB. Sure, the scale is logarithmic but still, it was easily 110-115 there during the loudest moments, and many of those moments were nearly a period long.
- Unfortunately since the give away was t shirts, not every joined into the almost ritual like habit of rhythmically flicking their towels/pompoms/shirts back and forth to the beat of the music as the Sharks head lowered. Trust me, when you get 17,000+ doing it, it's a helluva imposing sight. I often wonder what the visiting teams thinks when they see it.
The entire second period felt tense. It was almost like being at a completely different game. The Sharks were largely outworked during the second and they spent way too many agonizing minutes in their own zone. You knew it was only a matter of time before a puck would end up behind Nabby given how Detroit was playing. Sure enough, the Wings potted one at 2:40 of the second. Stupid Rafalski, doing his job. Thankfully the Sharks took little time to respond and Joe Thornton (what's that? I can't hear all those choking comments over the roar of the crowd) scored at 4:54 to tie the game at 1. Whooo! To say the place exploded would be an understatement. It was mass insanity. Up until that point the crowd had been largely quiet in the second (especially compared to a very loud and rowdy first), but it was quiet no longer. Once the score was tied the crowd never got out of the game. Sharkie and his Tank Patrol minions brought out "Beat 'D' troit" signs and the majority of us energetically joined in the chant. Mina, still panicking in her chair, did not. I'm pretty sure she felt it was bad mojo, but I said to hell with that crap, we're winning this thing, and cheered.
I told Mina at one point, after poking fun at her by turning my game 2 pompom into a mylar hat, that it was ok because the Sharks would come out strong in the third. I also busted out the "mylar hat" a few times to mock the gentlemen behind us. They knew the game and they knew it well but they would not stop ragging on Patty. Every other thing was some comment about Marleau needing to skate, or do this or that and stop sucking. I was tempted to remind them that he DID, in fact, score the game winner in game 3, but I never got around to it. At one point Patty batted a puck out of the Sharks zone, saving them from what had been some extended pressure around their own net. When the guys behind us failed to realize it was him Mina loudly announced that it was. They got quiet for a few minutes after that. She felt bad but I didn't. (I'm a jerk like that) I just didn't get why they were ragging on the guy when he had an amazing season and has been scoring game winners (if not much else).
At 3:12 of the third period, Pavelski was awarded a penalty shot after a hooking call on Kronwall. The entire crowd stood to watch. Not a soul was left in their seats. The crowd went nuts. Score this and the Sharks take the lead. Little Joe skated in, lined up his shot and....damn. It went high and wide. Not by much, but it wasn't in the net.
You could feel half the air suddenly get sucked out of the building.
After a quick moment of panic, the crowd roared and started cheering louder than ever. Whether it was the missed chance, or the crowd, or a reaction to being badly outworked in the second, the Sharks suddenly started to pour on the pressure in Detroit's zone. At 6:59 in the 3rd Patty scored. WHOO HOO! (I think it was his way of telling the guys behind us to suck it. They totally shut up about him after that.)
To say it was crazy having to sit through the rest of the period after Patty scored is like saying it's hard to breathe on top of Everest. It's just a statement of the obvious. I started repeating Earl Sleek's classic "go clock go!" chant as the seconds ticked down. Then the unthinkable happened. There's just under a minute left in the game. The Sharks are up 2-1, a tenuous lead at best, and suddenly they find themselves down a man. Boyle was called for holding.
Worst possible time to be in the box.
The Wings pull Howard and suddenly the Sharks are facing a 6 on 4, less than a minute away from what could be a series victory.
That was pretty much the longest 53ish seconds in my life. It didn't help that the play kept stopping like every ten seconds. I think all the faceoffs were in the Sharks zone. With 39.5 left, everyone stood. It was the effect of the sudden realization that we were about to witness history. The gentleman next to us, who'd bee pretty quiet all game, suddenly shouted "THERE'S 39.5 SECONDS LEFT! SIT DOWN!!!!!!!"
He apparently follows our rule about not standing for the last out during a ball game.
But you know, no one did. As the clock ticked down, it suddenly became like Times Square on New Years Eve. The crowd, unprompted, started to shout "5...4...3...2...1.." and then Nabby did his little Nabby dance and we all went nuts.
Even this guy.
Can you blame him?
I love how the guy in the old school teal jersey and the women next to him look really confused by his reaction.
Then came the handshakes.
And there was much rejoicing.
(AP photo Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Until round 3
(looks like Clowe's got a little capn' in him)