Part the Second. In Which We Enter OT.
There's an instant when the clock starts to count down the third period intermission when your brain suddenly realizes that there isn't a five minute break leading two 4 on 4, followed by a shoot out. No, this is playoff hockey. You could be here for 5 minutes, of 5 more hours. There was some discussion between us and the folks in our row over how long we'd stay. How many OT periods could we ride out? Everyone had watched all 4 OTs of game 6 against Dallas, and it was the consensus that if we go do it then, we could do it now. The Tanks didn't clear out. It stayed packed as the minutes ticked down to the start of OT. A few people trickled out here and there, but most folks stayed. This was potentially the last game of the season; we wanted to be there to witness it.
I don't know how it happened. I saw the play develop, I've seen pictures of it since, but if you were to ask me what happened I would just tell you that the lights flashed, the horn sounded, and AfroPuff and I turned to each other and stared stunned for a moment before we went nuts and started jumping up and down hugging each other and cheering. I didn't know at the time why there was some discussion over the validity of the goal, and I didn't care. All I knew is that it was in, the replay showed the ref calling it on the ice, and we were going to game 6. The Sharks apparently had the same opinion as they headed off the ice long before the Ducks did, leaving only Grier to settle business with the Zebras.
If you've never left the Tank after a playoff win, picture a seas of people flooding out onto the streets after a concert, only they're all cheering, chanting and waving towels. The blue coats smiled as we all pours out chanting “DUCKS SUCK!*clapclap*DUCKS SUCK...” The celebration exploded out onto West Santa Clara and folks headed towards the various off site lots. There's a freeway overpass not too far down from the Tank and tradition dictates that you get as loud as you can cheering after a playoff win when you cross beneath it. Cars honked in shared celebration, towels spun wildly, and everyone was in a good mood. AfroPuff and I escaped the garage and made our way back to TCY's house for an after game party.