Egor Sharangovich - formerly known as Yegor Sharangovich - became W-egor Sharangovich as he provided the first ‘W’ of the season for the New Jersey Devils. Many young players dream about scoring their first NHL goal. Sharangovich’s first managed to made of the stuff dreams are made of. Sharangovich scored his first against a top-tier NHL team last season in Boston, his goal managed to not only win the game but in overtime with 1.7 seconds left off of the game clock off a breakaway. It was dramatic. It was thrilling. It was a goal-of-the-season worthy highlight. It was wonderful. And it was the young man’s first NHL goal. There is no need Sharangovich to fib about the circumstances if and when he tells his children about his first goal. It was downright magisterial.
A goal like that deserves to be celebrated and it deserves to be celebrated by breaking down how it happened.
The Game Situation
- It was overtime and both teams were playing 3-on-3.
- The goal was officially recorded as being scored 4:58 into overtime.
- The scorer credited Sharangovich with the goal, Damon Severson with the primary assist, and Kyle Palmieri with the secondary assist.
- The Devils on the Ice: #17 Egor Sharangovich, #21 Kyle Palmieri, #28 Damon Severson, #29 Mackenzie Blackwood
- The Bruins on the Ice: #13 Charlie Coyle, #41 Jaroslav Halak, #46 David Krejci, #48 Matt Grzelcyk
- Devin recapped the whole game here, so please read that for the whole performance. This post is only about this goal.
The Video of the Goal
The NHL.com video of the goal itself starts off blurry for some reason. However, the full game recap video from NHL.com has the whole play in much clearer definition. I have pulled the following screenshots from 4:02 to 4:15 from that video with one pulled from a replay at a different angle at 4:54.
All screen captures in this breakdown are from this video. Multiple angles are used. Text, shapes, and poorly drawn arrows and lines are from me using Microsoft Paint.
Overtime is nearing its end and Boston has possession of the puck. Their trio of David Krejci, Matt Grzelcyk, and Charlie Coyle are gaining the zone against Damon Severson, Egor Sharangovich, and Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri is right on top of Grzelcyk upon the entry with Sharangovich and Severson in the zone.
While it looks like Palmieri has Grzelcyk in this screen capture, this will not last. Palmieri had his eye on the puck and Krejci in this picture. He will ditch the Boston defenseman and go after Krejci. This is a rather aggressive decision by Palmieri in a situation where aggression can be a team’s undoing if it does not work. It will also not be helped by Severson or Sharangovich, who both have their eyes on Krejci. Grzelcyk and Coyle will charge ahead unimpeded.
Palmieri went to deny Krejci. The Bruins forward deked around him, which all but takes Palmieri out of this defense the Devils have to mount. Palmieri’s challenge was easily met by Krejci. Had this result in a Boston goal, this would have received more attention. Thankfully, it did not.
Looking at this screen shot, I do not have a lot of confidence in the Devils’ defending this attack at this moment. Severson and Sharangovich are still looking at Krejci instead of the other two Bruins. Grzelcyk stopped in the high slot and will drift out wide to the near-side circle. Coyle rounded Sharangovich and will head to the net. Both will go to where they want to go without much of an issue. And it is unclear whether there will be a Devil on either one of them. With 13 seconds left in OT, Boston can create a really choice offensive opportunity as they are essentially in a 3-on-2.
Krejci is in control as the other two B’s cycle around. Grzelcyk is wide open and has no one paying attention to him. He will continue to drift back to the near-side faceoff dot, facing the goal. Grzelcyk is making himself an option for Krecji, should he want one. Krejci has no one really on him, so he can decided to fire it away if he gets a look past Severson at Mackenzie Blackwood or the net. Coyle, on the other hand, is charging to the net to cause chaos.
The Devils are in a bit of trouble here. Palmieri turned but is still well away from anything in this play. Severson is stuck in the slot. He will decide to try to get into the passing lane, but that is a lot of ice to make up. Sharangovich, amazingly, is not looking at him but he’s dropping back to the same spot Coyle is heading. Maybe someone (Palmieri? Blackwood? The bench?) told him to drop back. This will prove important in two pictures.
The trouble for New Jersey ramped up when Krejci dished the puck across to Grzelcyk in the circle. Grzelcyk is wide open. The pass beat Severson’s lunge and now he is out of the play too. Blackwood tracked the pass, so he is going across - and almost right into Coyle and Sharangovich, who are set up at the near-side post.
In this screen shot, it appears to me that Grzelcyk had a great chance to one-time it. While the defenseman may have not seen a lot of net, trying to fire it right off the pass would have been defensible. Blackwood is in motion, so his stance is opened up. If he got a hint that Coyle made it to the near post, then he knew to fire it just away from it. Most of all, there is just 11 seconds left in overtime and he has a wide-open shot. Blast it away and he is either a hero or provides one last chance as time ticks off. Even if he misses, the puck would have to take a very favorable bounce off the boards for New Jersey to do anything.
Grzelcyk did not one-time it. What he did do was when the play began to go wrong for Boston.
Grzelcyk took a touch of the puck, headed down from the dot, and then decided to fire a wrist shot. By the time he released the shot, Blackwood made it over without crashing into the two players to his left. Sharangovich fronted Coyle, which means Coyle cannot really do much but be in a Devils sandwich at the moment. As both skaters were at the near post, Grzelcyk’s only opening is either sneaking the puck low through Blackwood or finding a the corner at the far post. Both are very difficult shots from where Grzelcyk is at on the ice. I do not even know what Grzelcyk is even aiming for with this shot. Maybe he is trying to just sneak it through amid traffic. Either way, Grzelcyk is taking a worse shot than the one he had a picture ago.
This is where things are going to bad for Boston. Grzelcyk’s shot went right to the near post. Where the two skaters were. Where both Coyle and Sharangovich blocked out the net. The shot is not even going to get to Blackwood. It will be blocked.
An open shot like that leading to being blocked is a disappointment. The bounce made it a potential disaster for the B’s. The block sent the puck away from the net and right to where Kyle Palmieri is waiting. No one else can get to this puck before Palmieri. The Devils will gain possession and there is a chance to counter-attack. With Coyle and Grzelcyk in so deep and Krejci in the slot, the Bruins are very vulnerable if the Devils acted fast. Which they will do:
Palmieri did not waste any time. He smoothly collected the puck, he turned away to the far side circle, and just launched the puck off the sideboards and out of the zone. With time running out, this would ensure Boston is not going to get anything late. Krejci, who was in the slot, moved to challenge Palmieri - but he was never going to catch Palmieri in this position. His presence perhaps convinced Palmieri to not try to skate it out, but I would like to think the clock contributed to that decision.
As Palmieri is clearing the puck, there are two races between the other four skaters. The goal is to get ahead and get to where this puck will be. Coyle, who pulled away from the crease and into the slot, will try to keep up with Severson. Sharangovich, who also got away from the near post and headed just inside the near-side circle, will try to get away from Grzelcyk. Not only does Palmieri’s pass need to get to a place where one of his two teammates can retrieve it, they have to do so with enough space from a Bruin. And to do it all with less than 8 seconds in overtime. This does not look particularly difficult, but it definitely was.
The puck banked off the side boards and stayed closer to the far-side boards. This was favorable for Severson, as the puck is closer to him. Coyle did a very good job to keep up with Severson. That race is basically neck-and-neck. This is critical as Severson is the only one in a position to make a last-chance attack even possible.
The other race was decided earlier. Sharangovich pulled away from Grzelcyk early. The defenseman will not catch the winger. He tried to hook him about a second earlier, but Sharangovich would not be denied. The forward is going to keep going forward down the middle of the ice. He will be open. But how will he even get the puck?
Less than a second after the previous screenshot, Severson turned towards the puck and showed his back to Coyle. Severson was not going to get ahead of Coyle enough to get the puck and pass it off while looking forward. Instead, the defenseman decided to move to take possession of the puck and try something far bolder. As the puck and Severson are a good distance from the sideboards, Coyle can only track this activity. Here, he will turn to stay on Severson and hope to make some kind of play. While we can see Sharangovich is wide open, the question still remains: How will Severson even get Sharangovich the puck?
The answer was a no-look, turn-around backhand pass. Just as Severson took possession of the puck, he continued his turn while gliding towards the blueline. Once the puck was moved to his backhand, he flung it forward into space. More importantly, Severson moved the puck to where only Sharangovich could get it. I do not know if he meant it, but as Coyle was going around to possibly deny Severson a zone entry or throw a hit into the boards, the passing lane opened up. In this screen shot, I think Coyle realizes that Severson now does not have the puck - and he is basically out of the play as well.
This bold decision by Severson could have gone wrong in a bunch of ways. Any hesitation and Coyle could have stopped him. A misfired pass down in the zone would essentially end with nothing. A misfired pass into the neutral zone would have missed Sharangovich and could have given Grzelcyk a late gift in a was incredibly rewarded. And a more acute pass could have put Sharangovich offside. However, fortune favors the bold and his pass was just about perfect.
To really highlight its perfection, I took this screenshot. Live, one could question whether Sharangovich was really onside. He was. The puck was already in the zone by the time Sharangovich’s right skate was on the blueline.
As also clearly shown in this screenshot, this is all up to Sharangovich. Coyle cannot engage. Grzelcyk is not going to make up the distance in time unless Sharangovich slows down - which he will not. Boston needs Jaroslav Halak to make one more save. New Jersey needs Sharangovich to finish the play.
As Sharangovich approaches, Halak appropriately comes out of his crease a bit to cut off the angle. Halak performed rather well that afternoon, so his confident stance makes sense. He really is not showing off any major openings. Sharangovich does have to decide soon on when to take his shot. In less than a second, he will begin his motion.
Just as Sharangovich committed to shoot the puck, Halak started to drop down. In doing so, he showed off a small space between his legs and under his pads. As Halak dropped down at this moment in time, Sharangovich’s shot is going to go through if it beats Halak low before Halak gets his pads and stick on the ice. Likewise, if the shot ended up being high to either corner, that would work too. Sharangovich cannot really change his mind about shooting at this point as he has committed to the shot less than 0.4 seconds earlier.
Sharangovich’s shot ended up being low - and it beat Halak through the space before he finished going down. The reverse angle of the goal shows exactly where the puck went in.
Halak did not get his left pad down as fast as his right pad. Sharangovich’s shot snuck under the pad and went into the net. The clock was stopped at 1.7 seconds left, the referee signaled the goal, Sharangovich began to celebrate, and the Devils at the Prudential Center and the fans around the world were jubilant. All of this in less than ten seconds. You could not ask for a more dramatic time to score your first NHL goal. Welcome to scoring and victory, young Egor Sharangovich!
The Lessons to Learn
There are a number of points to takeaway from this breakdown of this wonderful goal. Six come to my mind.
First, teams should always keep playing until the end. This whole sequence took place in less than 14 seconds. Even if it seems like the period or the game or the overtime is going to run out of time, a lot can happen in a little amount of time in this sport. All three Devils skaters should be commended for playing the puck ahead and pushing the tempo for that last opportunity. Any hesitation or delay could have ended with no goal and perhaps no win depending on how the shootout would go for the Devils. The Devils took a chance to get something off and it ended up winning them a game. Nothing is over until the buzzer goes.
Second, the Devils should be thankful for Matt Grzelcyk on this play. In retrospect, he really should have one-timed David Krejci’s pass. Even if it did not seem optimal when he received the pass, it would have went much better for Boston. If he is fortunate and the shot was heading to the far post, then he wins the game. If not but he misses the net, then it would be highly unlikely New Jersey turns it around off the miss. Instead, he drifted to a tougher angle at facing the net with traffic in front of him more prominently. This led to a worse shot to take and the resulting blocked shot. This was a great occurrence for the Devils and not just because Palmieri took the blocked shot and started off a scoring play. The Devils were in real trouble as Boston attacked. The Devils were puck watching as Boston gained the zone, Palmieri missed his challenge on Krejci, Severson was stuck in no man’s land, and Sharangovich only had the presence of mind to end up where Coyle was going. no one was on Grzelcyk. Leaving anyone open in the offensive zone in 5-on-5 is a problem, much less in 3-on-3 in a sudden death period. The Devils got away with their sloppiness on defense with Grzelcyk taking a worse shot than he should have, which was ultimately blocked.
Third, this play is a good reason why plenty of players bank passes or clearing attempts off the side boards. It allows the puck to travel far away without necessarily leading to an icing call. Provided the pass off the boards is not too hard, the puck will tend to stay towards the board as it headed up ice. Palmieri launching the puck the way he did was important. It not only ended Boston’s offense, but he did so without any risk of icing the puck. The bank was shallow enough for Severson to have the inside position on Coyle to obtain possession.
Fourth, Severson’s pass was absolutely beautiful as it was bold. Severson’s turnaround pass was in one motion. With Coyle on his shoulder, I think he knew he needed to shake him off to keep moving the puck forward. I do not know whether he knew Sharangovich would be where he was when he fired the pass. Maybe someone at the Devils’ bench yelled it to him as he was heading up ice? Maybe he got a glimpse while chasing the puck down with Coyle? Regardless, Severson could not have timed or angled his pass any better. A misfired pass could have led to nothing happening at all and/or Sharangovich being offside. As pumped as you should be at the goal, I think you should also be pumped with the assist.
Fifth, Sharangovich deserves all the praise. While he was watching Krejci as he gained the Devils’ zone, he did end up covering a Bruin. That is much more than what Palmieri and Severson did on the play in New Jersey’s end. When the block happened, he charged up ice. He had a bit of a head startt Grzelcyk. The defenseman hooked his arm but Sharangovich powered through it and ended up all alone. He was in the only man who could have received Severson’s pass. He collected the puck cleanly and in stride. He skated to the slot with confidence and a purpose to shoot. Halak was not an easy man to beat that afternoon. He only conceded one goal that day and it was off a tip in off a long shot. Halak was not beaten straight up. Sharangovich did so by putting his shot beneath his left pad before the goaltender could get it down. All of this within three seconds of action. But his contribution started all the way back at his own net when he essentially sandwiched Coyle and became the first thing Grzelcyk saw when took his ill-advised shot. It was a near 200 foot play for Sharangovich and it ended with his first ever NHL goal. Absolutely fabulous by the young forward.
Sixth, this kind of play is inherently intended with the NHL’s 3-on-3 format. All of this breakdown took place within just 14 seconds of action. This is by design of the overtime format. With four fewer skaters on the ice at even strength combined with the sudden death nature of the period, puck possession and risk mitigation are more important than ever. A team takes a risk by taking a shot as they can lose possession. So they hold onto the puck and use the additional space to create a dangerous shot and/or get the other team in a bad defensive position for a shot. If the shot is saved or blocked, then the other team can in a prime position to counter-attack. Which can then follow by another one. It makes for exciting end-to-end hockey when teams respond quickly enough. It also makes for very nerve-wracking hockey to watch as even a not-so-big mistake like not getting a shot on net like Grzelcyk can lead to your team losing in overtime seconds later. Which is what the Devils did to the Bruins, who did their zone entry after a denial of the Devils a little bit earlier. This reality circles back to my first point: play to the very end. Especially in overtime where it does not take much or a long time to create the one goal-scoring opportunity needed to win the game.
That is the goal breakdown of Egor’s Sharangovich’s first NHL goal, which resulted in the Devils’ first win of the 2021 season. You have now read what I saw in the play that led to this dramatic breakaway winner in the dying seconds in overtime. Now I want to know what you think about it. What did you learn from this breakdown? How fortunate were the Devils that Grzelcyk did not one-time it? Were you surprised to see Severson and Sharangovich win their respective races with the Bruins as Palmieri cleared the puck? What impressed you more: Severson’s pass or Sharangovich’s shot? Please leave your answers and other thoughts on this breakdown of the Sharangovich’s first NHL goal in the comments. Thank you for reading.