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Donskoi saves the day
SJ win wild game in overtime after Finnish winger ties game late
1/13/18 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks returned from the collective bargaining induced bye week to officially wrap up the first half of the season with their 41st game of the season at SAP Center on Saturday night. The schedule makers made things easy for San Jose by allowing them to ease back into things with a game against the worst team in the NHL in the Arizona Coyotes. They made it difficult on themselves by ignoring any semblance of defense in the game and were forced to scratch out a nail biting goal in the waning moments of regulation just to tie the game. They salvaged two points with a goal in overtime to win a heart-stopping 6-5 decision over Arizona.

There are two ways to interpret the Sharks performance. They either battled back and showed the perseverance to overcome a late deficit to win a key game, or they barely squeaked by an opponent they should have man-handled. Regardless, they kept pace with the close race in the Western Conference that positions them 6 points out of 3rd place, and 1 point of 12th place.

San Jose currently sits in 9th spot in the West, out of a playoff spot. They still have games in hand over several teams ahead of them, so they could make up spots, but there's still a half a season to play.

The Sharks looked as if they were going to will themselves to a win on offense alone in the opening period, when they scored three goals. The issue was that they also allowed Arizona to counter with three goals of their own.

Joe Thornton opened the game's scoring 5:53 into the game by wristing a shot from the front of the net after Joe Pavelski intercepted a clearing attempt along the end boards and immediately moving the puck to Thornton.

Derek Stepan countered 3 minutes later with his 9th goal of the season, throwing a puck at Martin Jones from the bottom of the right circle after pivoting away from the net. The shot came from a tight angle, but Jones couldn't stop the puck from bouncing off this shoulder before finding the back of the goal.

Joe Pavelski converted the Sharks only power play of the evening at 10:59, by whipping a shot from the top of the right circle, catching Coyotes goaltender Scott Wedgewood on the inside of the right pad. The puck trickled through Wedgewood's pads for Pavelski's 9th goal of the season.

Alex Goligoski made it a 2-2 game 81 seconds later, ripping a shot from the right side that evaded Jones.

Donskoi had a career night, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist on one of the most impressive goals of the season. Logan Couture was credited with his 17th goal of the season, but he really played a supporting role on the tally. Donskoi grabbed a feed at the Coyotes blueline, then fought off Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Kevin Connauton as he tried to keep control of the puck on his way to the goal. Donskoi finally sent a backhand pass through Ekman-Larsson's legs to Couture on the off wing for the easy deposit.

The euphoria of Couture's goal was quickly erased when Christian Fischer raced around the Sharks defense on the left wing and put a backhand past Jones. That would end the netminder's evening as Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer inserted Aaron Dell in net.

That Donskoi magic pushed the Sharks back in the lead late in the 2nd period. Mikkel Boedker saw his Finnish linemate loitering at the Coyotes blueline, before sending an 80 foot pass to him. Donskoi couldn't control the pass as it deflected off his stick, heading toward the Arizona net. Wedgewood tried to skate out to the high slot to clear the puck, but Donskoi beat him to it, chipping it over the goaltender's stick and into the Arizona goal.

Arizona turned the tables on San Jose by scoring a pair of goals early in the 3rd period to grab a 5-4 lead. The Sharks were forced to pull Dell late in the period in order to score the equalizer.

They did exactly that when Donskoi stuffed home a loose puck while perched off the left post with 15.8 seconds left in regulation. Brent Burns had fired a shot from the right point that Wedgewood stopped, but didn't control. Donskoi fished the puck out of the goaltender's pads and slid home to tie the game for the 5th time on the night.

Arizona took a peculiar approach to overtime, trying to wait out the Sharks for some reason in hope San Jose would sub off their starters. They never advanced the puck past the midline, so the Sharks were left to end things.

That would happen when Thornton caught Pavelski sliding in on net uncontested. Pavelski gathered a feed then tried to put a shot past Wedgewood as he skated across the goal mouth from left to right. Wedgewood made a spectacular save, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic raced in and punched home the puck for the improbable comeback win.

Game Notes:

* Joe Thornton moved into 17th place on the NHL All-Time Scoring list, with his 3 point now.

* Even with all the Sharks scoring, Melker Karlsson and Barclay Goodrow has nightmare games, both finishing with a -4 on the night. The pair were essentially benched in the 3rd period, and were limited to 14 shifts on the night each.

* The game was a sellout, a rare occurrence for the Sharks this season. The Warriors helped by bringing their two World Championships to the game and lending their logo to a co-branded Sharks-Warriors jersey that was given to each fan in attendance.


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1 2 3 OT T
ARI 3 0 2 0 5
SJ 3 1 1 1 6
1st period - 1, SJ, Thornton 9 (Pavelski), 5:53. 2, ARI, Stepan 9 (Perlini, Panik), 9:01. 3, Pavelski 9 (Burns, Thornton), 10:59, (pp). 4, ARI, Goligoski 5 (Stepan), 12:16. 5, SJ, Couture 17 (Donskoi, Burns), 13:37. 6, ARI, Fischer 12 (Connauton), 14:01.
2nd period - 7, SJ, Donskoi 9 (Boedker, Dell), 17:07.
3rd period - 8, ARI, Ekman-Larsson 7 (Dvorak, Keller), 3:31. 9, ARI, Archibald 3 (Chychrun, Dvorak), 6:22. 10, SJ, Donskoi 10 (Burns, Tierney), 19:44.
Overtime - 11, SJ, Vlasic 5 (Pavelski, Thornton), 2:42.
1st period - Stepan, ARI (cross checking), 10:51.
2nd period - Labanc, SJ (high sticking), 8:30.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - None.
Shots Saves
ARI - Wedgewood 44 38
SJ - Jones 6 3
SJ - Dell 15 13
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
ARI 9 5 7 0 21
SJ 16 11 13 4 44
Power Play Conversion
ARI 0 of 1
SJ 1 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Joonas Donskoi
Joe Thornton
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
SAP Center - 17,562
Referees: Kowal, Chmielewski. Linesmen: Daisy, Murchison.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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