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Sharks saved by a Donkey
SJ wins first Stanley Cup Finals game on Donskoi's OT goal
6/4/16 - By Mike Lee -

It took three games to get it done, but the San Jose Sharks finally win a Stanley Cup Final game. Rookie Joonas Donskoi blew the roof of the SAP Center on Saturday night, with an overtime goal that legitimized head coach Peter DeBoer's insistence that the Sharks aren't dead yet. Donskoi sent the capacity crowd into a frenzy as the Sharks finally figured out the Pittsburgh Penguins in their best-of-seven series.

The goal came 12:18 into overtime and set off one of the biggest street parties in San Jose history. And that came after one win. Imagine what Santa Clara Street will be like if the Sharks were to raise the Cup.


Downtown San Jose had to settle for raucous jubilation after Donskoi snapped a 15-foot shot from the bottom of the left circle, that lifted past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Donskoi circled around the back of the Penguins net from right to left before pivoting to his left and getting his game-winning shot off. The rookie forward had both Justin Schultz and Evgeni Malkin pursuing him and had to place his shot between the two as he skated away from the Penguins net.

Melker Karlsson started the scoring sequence with a strong forecheck near the left corner. The Swede was moved up to the Sharks top line to start the game after Tomas Hertl was ruled out due to an injury. Karlsson paid the price with his pressure deep in the Pittsburgh zone, getting hit with a check that snapped his stick and knocked his glove off.

Karlsson was able to keep the play alive, pushing the puck around the end boards to the right corner where Donskoi picked up the play. Karlsson had just enough time to skate to the Sharks bench, take a seat, before immediately being forced to pop back to his feet to join in on the celebration following Donskoi's goal.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones pumped both fists as he raced form his crease to the boards in front of the scorers desk to join in on the mob scene around Donskoi.

It was a surreal moment.

The Sharks were in the position to score the sudden death goal after clawing back from a pair of deficits earlier in the game.

Pittsburgh continued the trend of coming out of the gate strong and grabbing 1st period leads. Roman Polak continued the trend of deflecting pucks into his own net. Pens defenseman Ben Lovejoy ripped a shot from the right point that may have sailed wide left, but Polak tried to block it by sticking his leg out in front of the shot. The Puck ended up hitting Polak's shin guard, redirecting it past Jones for the 1-0 Pittsburgh lead.

The Sharks didn't record a shot on goal in the game until the 8:30 mark, but their 2nd shot of the game tied things up at 1-1. Defenseman Justin Braun scored for the second consecutive game, ripping a shot from the blueline that tucked inside the right post.

Patric Hornqvist tried diving in front of Braun's shot, but Braun shot cleared the obstacle. Kris Letang tried stepping in front of it, but he ended up screening Murray. The Penguins goaltender never moved as the puck sailed past his left shoulder.

San Jose started to tilt the ice toward Murray in the 2nd period, but Murray found a way to keep the puck out of his own net. The Sharks controlled the pace of play in the period, but it was Pittsburgh that would take advantage of a deflection with 53 seconds left in the frame. Once again Lovejoy fired a puck on net from the blueline, but Hornqvist got a stick on the shot, deflecting it past Jones.

The goal was a gut punch to the raucous crowd, but its timing may have benefited the Sharks. Coming right before the 2nd intermission, it allowed the sharks to regroup and forget about the tally to start the 3rd period.

Pittsburgh's Game 1 hero Nick Bonino influenced the game 4:48 into the 3rd but clipping Joe Thornton with a high stick that opened up a cut in the Sharks centerman's right cheek. San Jose milked the ensuing four minutes down to the last second when Joel Ward fired a shot from the high slot that Murray failed to glove.

The puck slipped between Murray's glove and his butterflied left pad. Defenseman Bryan Dumoulin and forward Bryan Rust seemed to expect Ward to dish the puck, allowing him to wind up on the shot.

Pittsburgh out-shot San Jose 13-7 in the period, but Jones kept the game tied with a series of solid saves that looked ordinary, but his ability to predict where the shot was going allowed him to take up positions that required little movement.

The last minute of regulation turned out to be another hairy period end for the Sharks, who had to rely on Jones to preserve the 2-2 tie.

In the overtime, there were no shortage of scoring chances for both teams, even though the Penguins threw another 9 shots at Jones. The Sharks netminder finished the game with 40 saves.

Unlike Game 2, the Sharks kept Malkin and Sidney Crosby in check most of the evening. That setup Donskoi's heroics with 7:42 to play in the extra frame.

Fans streamed out of the SAP Center chanting "we want the Cup," then setup camp around the NHL Network stage picking up the volume on the chant. Should the Sharks match the outcome in Game 4 on Monday night, the streets will be a fun place to be.

Game Notes:

* The Sharks went all out before the game with a pre-game presentation that was over the top. The use of LED bracelets along with several video presentations helped set the tone. Former Seattle Seahawks and Cal Bear running back Marshawn Lynch was the celebrity who opened the locker room door for San Jose. Lynch wore a Sharks jersey with "Beast Mode" embroidered above his back numbers.

* Tomas Hertl was officially scratched earlier in the day. Hertl was reported to have skated on Friday, but quickly called it quits. Hertl may have sustained an ankle injury after being checked by Patric Hornqvist in the 3rd period of Game 2.

* Kris Letang led all skaters with 31:58 of ice time. Brent Burns led the Sharks with 29:33.

* Every Penguin recorded a shot on goal except for Conor Sheary, who beat the Sharks in Game 2, with his overtime shot.

* The win was the first in overtime for the Sharks this playoff season. They were 0-4 before Donskoi's heroics.

* The Penguins out-shot San Jose 42-26, but they also blocked 38 San Jose shots.


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1 2 3 OT T
PIT 1 1 0 0 2
SJ 1 0 1 1 3
1st period - 1, PIT, Lovejoy 2 (unassisted), 5:29. 2, SJ, Braun 2 (Thornton, Vlasic), 9:34.
2nd period - 3, PIT, Hornqvist 8 (Lovejoy, Maata), 19:07.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Ward 7 (Donskoi, Thornton), 8:48.
Overtime - 5, SJ, Donskoi 6 (Tierney), 12:18.
1st period - Ward, SJ (high sticking), 2:58.
2nd period - Hagelin, PIT (tripping), 10:39.
3rd period - Bonino, PIT (high sticking - double minor), 4:48.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
PIT - Murray 26 23
SJ - Jones 42 40
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
PIT 14 6 13 9 42
SJ 6 9 7 4 26
Power Play Conversion
PTI 0 of 1
SJ 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joonas Donskoi
Joel Ward
Martin Jones
Referees: O'Halloran, O'Rourke. Linesmen: Amell, Murray.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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