No Joe Pavelski. No problem.
Kevin Labanc is having a coming-out party since the San Jose Sharks captain went down with an injury in Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
He recorded a goal and three assists on a controversial five-minute penalty to Vegas' Cody Eakin as the Sharks rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win 5-4 in overtime.
But he was equally impressive with a beautiful second-period goal against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Taking a pass from Brent Burns, he pushed the puck between the legs of Colorado's Mikko Rantanen while somehow skating through a narrow gap between Rantanen and San Jose's Joe Thornton.
Goodness gracious, @Str8ToTheBanc. ? #StanleyCuppic.twitter.com/Oh8xCRWSTJ
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He then used Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard as a screen to wrist a shot past Philipp Grubauer for the winning goal in a 5-2 victory Friday night.
Labanc, who plays on the third line, was hot down the stretch with 26 points in his final 30 games to give him a career-best 56 points.
San Jose's Kevin Labanc (62) is congratulated after his second-period goal against the Avalanche. (Photo: Josie Lepe, AP)
But he had just one goal and no assists in six playoff games before his Game 7 outburst.
The Thornton line had five points in Game 1 and Burns had four.
The Sharks will need more of that type of offense as Pavelski remains day-to-day.
"We love him so much," Thornton said in an NBCSN interview about Pavelski. "We want to continue this so he can play again."
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