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Sharks bite back: Donskoi’s overtime goal lifts San Jose over Pittsburgh

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Sharks fans celebrate after Joonas Donskoi netted the winning goal in overtime to lead San Jose over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
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SAP CENTER — Joonas Donskoi’s overtime goal in Game 3 has given the San Jose Sharks new life in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Donskoi, assisted by Chris Tierny at the 12:18 mark, lifted the Sharks to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Saturday night. The first-year forward is the sixth rookie to score an overtime goal in Stanley Cup Finals history.

After dropping back to back games in Pittsburgh, the Sharks looked like a completely different team at the SAP Center. The Shark Tank was loud, full of flashing wristbands and teal shirts, as expected for the city’s first Stanley Cup Final game in the team’s 25-year existence. Home ice did, in fact, make a difference.

“[It feels] pretty good. I think it was the best game from us for so far,” Donskoi said.

The Sharks now head into Game 4 on Monday with a win under their belt.

“It was a huge win,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. “It changes the series, and now we’re gonna take care of business in Game 4.”

San Jose limited the Penguins’ space on the ice as soon as the puck dropped. The Sharks were more physical and hit more than they had in the previous two games in the series. But San Jose was yet again outshot by the Penguins 42-26.

Pittsburgh netted the first goal of the night when defenseman Ben Lovejoy scored past goaltender Martin Jones at 5:29 in the first.

Sharks’ defenseman Justin Braun scored at 9:34, assisted by Joe Thornton and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, tying the score 1-1. Braun’s goal — his second in two games — from the blue line came off his skate and he put it over Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray’s left shoulder.

Matt Nieto was robbed at 5:21 in the second, and just a few minutes later a shot almost went in the back of Pittsburgh’s net but ricocheted back out.

San Jose went on the power play at 11:39 in the second, their fourth power play of the series. The Sharks have been deadly with the advantage — 1-for-3 in the Stanley Cup Final — and going into Game 3 they were the league’s best with a 27.8 percent conversion rate in playoffs. While the power play was unsuccessful, the Sharks were able to sustain pressure on the Penguins in 5-on-5 play.

The Penguins scored with 52.3 remaining in the second. Patric Hornqvist marked his 8th of the playoffs, assisted by Lovejoy and Olli Maatta, putting Pittsburgh ahead 2-1.

At 4:48 in the third, Penguins’ forward Nick Bonino took a high-sticking penalty on Joe Thornton, sending the Sharks on a 4-minute power play. Shortly after the power play ended, Sharks’ forward Joel Ward scored his 7th of the playoffs, assisted by Donskoi and Thornton, tying the game 2-2.

Finally, at 12:18 in overtime, Donskoi ended the game, putting the Sharks ahead of the Penguins for the first time in the series.

Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh marks the Sharks’ first overtime win this postseason.

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