San Jose refuses to go down without a fight
Sharks keep composure at home, earn critical Game 3 win over Penguins with Donskoi’s OT tally
Joonas Donskoi saved the San Jose Sharks’ chances at winning the Stanley Cup on Saturday night.
With the Sharks’ chances to come back in the series all but hanging in the balance, Donskoi scored the biggest goal of his life. He took the puck around the net behind Pittsburgh Penguins’ goalie Matt Murray and roofed it over Murray’s shoulder to give the Sharks a 3-2 home triumph in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s game in, game out different guys stepping up to the plate,” center Joe Thornton said of Donskoi. “It was huge he scored. Some clutch goals. He’s always around the puck. He always wants the puck.”
Justin Braun and Joel Ward also scored for the Sharks and goalie Martin Jones finished with 40 saves as the Sharks cut the Penguins’ series lead to two-games-to-one with Game 4 on Monday.
Ward gave the Sharks life as he scored his first goal of the series at the most critical juncture of the season.
Just as a four-minute double minor to Nick Bonino for high sticking was expiring, Ward carried the puck across the blue line and teed up a slap shot that got through Murray to tie the game 2-2 with 11:12 to go in the third period.
Up until that point, it looked like the Sharks were going to waste another rare power play chance. They were on the man advantage just three times in the first two games, converting once, and had two shots on goal with their first power play chance when Carl Hagelin was called for tripping 10:39 into the second period. They had three shots on goal with Bonino in the box before Ward’s goal.
The second period was actually one of the best the Sharks had played in the series, as they outshot the Penguins 9-6 and had a handful of prime scoring chances. But the Penguins scored the lone goal, as Patric Hornqvist tipped in Ben Lovejoy’s shot from just inside the blue line with 52 seconds left to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.
The Sharks first home game in a Cup final began inauspiciously for the Sharks, as Lovejoy converted a shot from above the right circle for a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game. The Sharks responded four minutes later as Braun scored the tying goal with a wrist shot from the top of the slot.
It was Braun’s second goal of the final. He scored the Sharks’ only goal in Game 2.
It was also just the Sharks’ second shot of the game. The Penguins outshot the Sharks 14-6 in the first period and had 12 blocked shots in the first 20 minutes.
Thornton added two assists to help San Jose raise its postseason record to 8-2 in the Shark Tank.
The Sharks had lost four overtime games in the playoffs before beating the Penguins in Game 3.
The general impression is that the Penguins have dominated the series, but two games have gone to overtime and Game 1 was decided in the final minutes of regulation.
Still, the Sharks were looking for a better start than their two games in Pittsburgh,
“When they’re breaking out and using their speed, that’s when they’re dangerous, that’s when they’re getting scoring opportunities. So, limiting their ability to break out so clean is a key for us tonight.”
With the Sharks having last change for the next two games, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer will look for more advantageous situations for all of his lines.
“They’ve given us matchup problems, not just us, but other teams,” DeBoer said. “When you have Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on three different lines, I mean, all three of those guys make more than anybody on our team. That’s matchup problems for everybody all playoffs.”
SAN JOSE SHARKS forward Joonas Donskoi (27) takes the game-winning shot past Pittsburgh Penguins players Evgeni Malkin, Justin Schultz and goalie Matt Murray to give the Sharks a 3-2 overtime home victory on Saturday night. The Penguins still lead the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final 2-1 heading into tonight’s Game 4.