SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks are alive in the Stanley Cup Final after a 3-2 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 on Saturday night at the Shark Tank. The Penguins now have a 2-1 lead, with each team having won on home ice.
Joonas Donskoi’s turnaround snap shot goal with 7:42 left in overtime was the difference.
It was the most competitive game of the Final, thanks in part to the Sharks’ stretches of dominant hockey, mistakes by both goalies and a four-minute power-play in the third period that ended up tying the game. But the Penguins had, for the most part, the better of the play.
Game 4 is Monday night in San Jose.
Despite the smoking shark and boisterous fans that met San Jose, it was the Penguins that hit the board first thanks to a puck-handling gaffe by goalie Martin Jones.
He attempted to settle the puck down behind his own goal, but ended up turning the puck over to Matt Cullen, who sent a shot back off the post. Eric Fehr fired the puck wide and it slid back to defenseman Ben Lovejoy at the blueline. While his body glided backward, he sent the puck forward and saw it deflect off the skate of Game 2 goat Roman Polak and behind Jones at 5:29 of the first.
But the Sharks responded quickly.
The fourth line that helped produced the Penguins’ goal was suddenly trapped in their own zone by the Sharks’ top line on the forecheck. Eventually, Joe Thornton sent to the puck to an open Justin Braun at the blueline. Kris Letang’s body managed to eclipse goalie Matt Murray, who didn’t move until the puck had snapped the twine behind him for the 1-1 tie at 9:34. For Braun, it was his second goal of the series; for Thornton, it was his first point of the Final.
The first period saw the teams trade stretches in which they dominated possession. The second period was the Sharks’ best of the series, with 18 even-strength shot attempts. They were closing off the Penguins in their own zone. They were pressing the tempo. It felt like a matter of time before there was a goal.
Turns out, though, it was the Penguins’ goal. And it arrived with less than a minute in the second.
After a nice play by Conor Sheary to get the puck in deep, the Penguins’ forecheck forced a Thornton turnover. Olli Maatta found Lovejoy, whose shot was tipped him by Patric Hornqvist for his eighth of the playoffs, despite tight defense from Brent Burns. The Penguins had a 2-1 lead, with 53 seconds remaining in the period.
The third period saw the Sharks get a four-minute power play when Thornton was cut by the stick of Nick Bonino. The Penguins played it completely well, with blocked shots and strong stops by Murray when they’d get through. But then, with Bonino nearly out of the box, Joel Ward blasted a shot:
The blast came on an odd-man rush after the Penguins’ PK may have gotten a little too eager down ice, with Kris Letang pinching. Ward took the puck at the top of the zone, and fired the puck through Murray to tie the game and squander the work of the penalty kill. It was Ward’s seventh of the playoffs and fifth at home in the playoffs.
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