The resilient Sharks came out on top 3-2 in an overtime thriller to win the teamâ€™s first ever Stanley Cup Finals game Saturday night in the SAP Center.
The Penguins did everything as planned in games 1 &2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. They maximized their speed and shut down the San Jose defense forcing the series 2-0 in favor of Pittsburgh. With San Jose in the tough situation of being down two games, the Sharks needed to find a way to win a very important Game 3.
Lovejoy makes provides the scoring for Pittsburgh
Ben Lovejoy started the scoring with a blast from the point that found its way past Sharks goalie Martin Jones at 5:29 in the first period, making it the third straight game where the Penguins scored the opening goal. Lovejoy would go on to provide another great shot which would tip off of his teammate Patric Hornqvist for the second and last Pittsburgh goal. The Penguins created a lot of scoring chances, but strong defense on the part of San Jose kept the Pens at two goals on the night.
Ward ties it up for San Jose
After the Lovejoy and Hornqvist goals, San Jose trailed 2-1. Justin Braun put the Sharks on the board in the first, but the Hornqvist goal gave Pittsburgh momentum going into the third period. The Sharks had some seemingly perfect breakout scoring chances, but Matt Murray was determined to not let any pucks past him. San Jose forward Joel Ward put a quick wrister from the point and the strange angle of the shot found the back of the net and just like that the Sharks were back in the contest.
“His release point was a little bit further back than most slap shots are, and it kind of dipped a little bit at the last second, and I just waved at it and missed it,â€ Matt Murray told NHL.com.
Neither team could manage to score in the last moments of the third, so they were sent to overtime for the second time in the series.
Donskoiâ€™s game-winner goes into the San Jose history books
Rookie Joonas Donskoi was signed to the Sharks this summer as a free agent after playing several years in Finland and at 12:18 into the first overtime period of Game 3 he scored the biggest goal in San Jose Sharks history. His goal gave the franchise its first Stanley Cup Finals win. As if the game-winner wasnâ€™t good enough, the teamâ€™s first win in the Finals came at home in the â€œShark Tankâ€. Donskoi scored after the team played good positioning on the boards, he caught the puck behind the net and carried out in front. A quick turnaround right at the right goal line caused enough havoc for him to land a clean shot into the back of the net to finalize the Game 3 score at 3-2 in favor of San Jose.
Game 4 is huge for both teams
The loss in Game 3 eliminated the Penguinsâ€™ chance for a sweep, but a win in Game 4 could put the Penguins in a position to put the Sharks against elimination. The Pens need production from their top two lines in order to take down the Sharks. The first two games were won with speed and shooting accuracy, but Game 3 seemed to be a bit sluggish. Pittsburgh has an all-star team that play well together, but the Sharks now carry a lot of momentum.
The big win in Game 3 gave the Sharks one of the best advantages in all of sports: momentum. Coming off of the win gives the Sharks confidence that they can score and win. The Sharks play with a mindset that anyone on the ice can score at any time. Whether itâ€™s Burns from the blue line, or Donskoi from the goal line, the Sharks find pucks and put them into the back of the net. San Jose will be the home team in Game 4 and the win on Saturday night might help give the Sharks new life in this 2016 Stanley Cup Finals.
Puck drop for Game 4 is set for 8:00PM EST on NBC.