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An unlikely hero scored the difference-maker as the Sharks faced elimination

In the San Jose Sharks first do-or-die game of the season, the game-winning goal came from an unexpected source.

Fourth line center Barclay Goodrow deflected a shot past Marc-André Fleury midway through the second period on the way to a 5-2 Sharks win. Vegas leads the series 3-2.

San Jose’s big guns opened the scoring early inside SAP Center. Tomáš Hertl sniped far side on Fleury and Logan Couture jammed in a rebound for a promising 2-0 lead.

However, a fluke Vegas goal in the dying seconds of the first period served as a humbling reminder that the game was far from over. Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith backhanded the puck off of Erik Karlsson, which took another deflection off of goaltender Martin Jones and into the Sharks net.

The Golden Knights power play goal with 30 seconds left in the opening period could have been a deflating moment for the Sharks, but Goodrow kept the engine running with his timely goal. Head coach Peter Deboer said:

“That’s a big goal for us by [Goodrow] at that point. We needed that.”

After defenseman Justin Braun took a shot from point, Goodrow perfectly redirected the puck to the top corner of the net on Fleury’s far side. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was also screening Fleury, blocking the view of the goalie who had shutout the Sharks just two days prior.

The goal, produced by the fourth line and the third defense pairing, gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead. Evander Kane said:

“It’s great. It’s a contribution that we as a group welcome on a nightly basis … for them to score a goal there, at that point in the game too, it’s good for our group.”

While the game-winning goal came from an unlikely player, Goodrow’s method of scoring, a tip, was familiar.

Team captain Joe Pavelski is consistently recognized as one of the NHL’s best puck-tippers, but Goodrow has also proven to be a scoring threat when in front of the net. Of his career-high seven goals this season, five of them have been through deflections. Whether that tip comes off his stick’s blade or shaft, or if he is battling in front of the goalie or skating across the slot, Goodrow has shown he has a knack for redirecting a puck mid-air.

Goodrow also scores at key times for the Sharks, netting three game-winning goals this season. Six of his 18 career goals are also game winners.

However, the focus of a team’s fourth line is not to score goals. On Goodrow’s next shift after scoring on Thursday night, he made a key defensive stop. After Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault got by Erik Karlsson, Goodrow made a sliding play to disrupt Marchessault’s pass attempt. Goodrow said:

“I just try to get in the lane and I think the puck went off my skate. It’s just shift to shift, the things go differently. You gotta you gotta do what you gotta do.

Goodrow went from scoring a big goal to having to lock down defensively, as is the nature of the life of a fourth liner. Goodrow said:

“You just look to look to create energy and we want to spend as much time in the offensive zone as possible … whenever you can keep [the opponent’s] fourth line out of your end, it kind of limits their their physicality and their ability to hit our defense.”

The grindy playstyle of the fourth line may not seem appealing, but Goodrow had to work his way to centering this line.

Throughout the year, DeBoer tried different players in the the fourth line center position. Rookies Antti Suomela, Dylan Gambrell and Rourke Chartier were all in the mix, but it was the five year veteran that impressed the most with his experience and versatility. DeBoer said:

“[Goodrow’s] got some grit to him and he’s got toughness. He’s turned into a real good face off guy. He kills penalties. So you start checking off boxes for what you’re looking for a fourth line centerman, there’s a lot of boxes checked there with him.”

Goodrow is one of San Jose’s regular penalty killers, averaging 1:26 of shorthanded time on ice per game throughout the regular season. He also contributed to the Sharks domination in the faceoff circle on Thursday night by winning 67 percent of his faceoffs. San Jose combined for a 63 percent faceoff win rate in Game 5.

Part of being on the fourth line is making the most of limited playing time. Goodrow has averaged 11:40 minutes of time on ice so far this series. Goodrow said:

“I think our goal just every game is to try to have an impact on the game, create momentum, whether that’s on the forecheck or playing physical or chipping in on the offense here and there. So I think we’re able to do that throughout the season.”

Goodrow joined the Sharks organization in the 2014-15 season. Originally a right winger, he jumped straight into NHL action and recorded 12 points in 60 games in his debut season. For the next two seasons, though, he mostly played in the AHL, with the Toronto native making just 17 NHL appearances. In the 2017-18 season, Goodrow worked his way back into the lineup, playing 47 games before fully breaking into the lineup in the 2018-19 season.

This season was a milestone for the 25-year-old, as he played a full 82-game season. Goodrow is just one of four Sharks to appear in every regular season game, showing the reliability of the previously undrafted player. DeBoer said:

“I think he’s improved his skating 100 percent from when I first got here four years ago, which allowed him to get up and down the sheet.”

Whether it will be Micheal Haley, Lukas Radil, or Joonas Donskoi joining fourth line mainstay Melker Karlsson on his wing for the next game, Goodrow is prepared. Goodrow said:

“I think throughout the year you play with mostly everyone on the team. So you’re used to it by this time. So whoever [DeBoer] calls to go to the next shift, you’re ready to go.”

The Sharks will face another elimination game on Sunday inside T-Mobile Arena. If San Jose takes the win, Game 7 will be Tuesday at SAP Center. Kane said the fourth line’s strong play is key for the Sharks to keep their season going:

“They’ve been doing their job all series and we’re gonna need them to continue to do what they’ve been doing.

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