Joonas Donskoi scored the Game 3 winner 12:18 into overtime as the Sharks topped the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 at SAP Center on Saturday night. The goal, which saw Donskoi beat Matt Murray high at a bad angle, gave the Sharks their first lead of the series and first overtime win of the playoffs.
Ben Lovejoy and Patric Hornqvist scored for the Penguins, while Murray made 23 saves.
San Jose was greeted by a loud and predictably enthusiastic crowd, mindful of the club’s long history without an appearance in the final. Sharks players received a thunderous ovation as they skated through the massive Shark head which adorns their entrance onto the ice and were cheered passionately throughout the evening.
It was the quick-starting Penguins who got on the board first, however, for the third straight game to start the series.
Reacting quickly to a Sharks clearing attempt that caromed off the sideboards, Lovejoy fired a weak slapshot from the right point that appeared to hit the left shinpad of San Jose defenceman Roman Polak before beating Jones.
Braun, who scored the game-tying goal in the final minutes of regulation in Game 2, got on the board again, his point shot sailing through a maze of traffic to beat Murray. The Penguins rookie goaltender didn’t see the shot, only glancing over his left shoulder when the puck was entering the goal.
The Sharks fed off the energy of the crowd and controlled play from there, though they were unable to put many shots on Murray. The Penguins blocked 12 attempts in the first frame and 38 overall, curtailing San Jose’s engaged efforts.
With control of the matchups on home-ice, San Jose managed to hold Sidney Crosby and the Penguins top line in check during the first 20 minutes. Crosby and linemates, Conor Sheary and Hornqvist, were contained by the Sharks defensive pair of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Braun, and held without a shot in the opening period.
Hornqvist had the unit’s first shot of the game with six minutes left in the second.
The Crosby line broke through in the final minute of the second with Vlasic and Braun on the bench, a crushing blow to the Sharks. After a Burns passing attempt failed to make it to a teammate along the wall, the puck made its way to Lovejoy, who again fired from the point. His shot was redirected into the goal by Hornqvist, his eighth goal of the post-season and first of the series.
San Jose got its best opportunity to tie the game minutes into the third when Thornton was clipped with a high-stick by Nick Bonino, who drew blood and a four-minute penalty.
Murray shined though. A clear chance for Patrick Marleau was denied as was a shot from Thornton and a redirect attempt from Donskoi.
It wasn’t until the man advantage just finished that Ward’s blast beat Murray. The play started when Thornton picked off a Penguins pass in the defensive zone and fed it up ice. Ward took a pass as he entered the Pittsburgh zone, wound up, and snuck it through Murray, who got a piece of the shot but not enough.
“We liked our game,” said Thornton. “It was better than Game 2 and hopefully Game 4 is going to be better than tonight. So it’s a good feeling.”